'This administration will not tolerate disregard of our laws. Employers have a legal and moral responsibility to protect their workers.' - Hilda Solis, U.S. Secretary of Labor.
Ottawa (4 Nov. 2009) - The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has levied the largest fine in its history — $87.4 million — against BP for failing to correct safety problems identified after a 2005 explosion killed 15 workers at its Texas City refinery.
Labor Secretary Hilda Solis says the fines are the result of BP’s failure to comply in hundreds of instances with a 2005 agreement to fix safety hazards at the refinery.
The fines represent the Obama labor department’s commitment to maintain safe workplaces, Solis says.
"This administration will not tolerate disregard of our laws. Employers have a legal and moral responsibility to protect their workers who ultimately are America’s most important assets. The laws are designed to level the playing field for all businesses and ensure that workers in any economic climate are kept out of harm’s way."
OSHA has issued 271 notifications to BP for failings since the explosion. It has also identified 439 “willful and egregious” violations of safety controls at the refinery.
BP management initially tried to blame the workers for the explosion.
Evidence collected by the OSHA and the U.S. Chemical Safety Board forced BP to acknowledge that it operated dangerous, obsolete equipment with a history of problems and malfunctioning control valves. Besides the 15 people killed, another 170 workers were injured and 13 employee trailers obliterated. Thirteen others were damaged, some as far as 300 yards away.
"Our number one concern is the safety and protection of the current workers," Solis says. "We don’t need to see another loss of one life there."
The National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) is one of Canada's largest labour organizations with over 340,000 members. Our mission is to improve the lives of working families and to build a stronger Canada by ensuring our common wealth is used for the common good. NUPGE