Michaels credits agency cooperation for oil spill response

October 28, 2010

In the aftermath of the deadly Deepwater Horizon oil rig explosion this past spring, various government agencies that worked together to clean up the oil spill helped prevent additional loss of life, OSHA administrator David Michaels said during an Oct. 20 speech at the National Response Team's Worker Safety and Health Technical Conference in Washington.

Days after the April 20 explosion, representatives from OSHA, NIOSH, the Coast Guard, the Environmental Protection Agency and the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences formulated a plan to protect worker safety and health, and discussed how oversight of that protection would be carried out. Insisting BP protect workers from all hazards was among the decisions made, Michaels said.

OSHA insisted BP implement protections against chemical exposure at stronger levels than OSHA requirements and against heat stress -- for which the agency has no dedicated standard.

Between April 22 and Oct. 20, BP documented (.pdf file) 5,782 recordable injuries and illnesses suffered during the Deepwater Horizon response. The vast majority of incidents occurred onshore (75 percent) and were treated with first aid (85 percent).