This paper surveys the different types of risks that workers and employees usually face within a given work setting. There are many hazards and dangers that employees in different types of industries encounter, particularly individuals in the manufacturing, construction and mining industries. All other known industries also have considerable risks facing their workers. This paper analyzes the case study of the Deep Water Horizon Oil Spill that occurred in 2010, as it relates to the risks that different British Petroleum (BP) workers faced during the oil spill.
Workplace Risk Analysis
Workplace Risks: The term Workplace Risk refers to the various types of hazards and dangers that employees face in a given business organization or a government institution in the process of performing their duties and responsibilities to achieve the intended objectives. Virtually, all industries operating within the global economy contain different workplace risks and their employees face them. Some industries carry more workplace risks due to the nature of the business activities and the operations. For instance, for workers involved in the manufacturing and mining industries face numerous types of dangers and hazards that range from safety and workplace injuries while handling different machines and equipment to the health hazards from various chemicals they get exposed to while carrying out employee roles and objectives.
Measures for mitigating workplace hazards and dangers: Health hazards and safety dangers, which various employees in different industries and sectors of the global economy face, always have a detrimental impact on the general productivity, efficiency and effectiveness of employees in carrying out their respective business duties and tasks. Therefore, it is imperative for business organizations, companies and government institutions to undertake certain safety and health measures in order to ensure the elimination or minimization of the risks and dangers facing their employees (Safety & Health, 2011). The foremost measure that business organizations, companies, and government institutions can adopt is the strict implementation of preventive measures to ensure workplace risks are highly diminished. Additional measures would involve setting up various health and safety contingency plans so that employees can work without fear of being harmed or hurt. Finally, creation of a set of rapid response measures is a way that various business organizations and government institutions can address the menace quickly if one arises. It will ensure that workers and employees that face hazardous or harmful incidents are quickly attended to. This aspect involves sending the injured to the area hospitals through emergency means and thereafter upgrading measures at the place where the danger or hazardous incident took place (Shaw, 2012).
Deep Water Horizon Oil Spill –A case scenario: In the mining and exploration industry, the Deep Water Horizon Oil Spill in 2010 is a perfect example of the dangers and risks that different types of employees face in the process of undertaking their duties and tasks. The Deep Water Horizon Oil Spill involved the oil mining and refining global corporation, the British Petroleum (BP). A massive explosion occurred at a deep water oil drilling rig off the Gulf of Mexico setting off the biggest accident involving a marine oil spill in history. During the oil-rig explosion, a total of eleven employees of the BP Corporation and the Transocean Corporation lost their lives. The number of employees working at the oil rig from the two multinational corporations was 126. Most of them bailed out from the ensuing explosion using helicopter and life water crafts (Welch & Joyner, 2011). The expansion of high pressure methane gas from the oil well into the drilling rig caused an ignition, leading to a massive explosion, and eventually led to the collapse and sinking of the deep water oil rig platform. The leaking of oil from the deep water well was noticed two days after the explosion and hours after sinking of the deep water oil rig. This leak resulted in the most devastating marine oil spill in history affecting huge parts of the United States’ coastline and a substantial part of the Gulf of Mexico.
The cause of the explosion and subsequent oil spill was the subject of government investigations, commissions and the United States Congressional hearings. A number of possible reasons that pertain to the safety and risk standards were identified.
Causes for the Deep Water Horizon Oil Spill: In evaluating the chief cause of the explosion, it appears that some of the managers made judgment errors that placed the lives of 126 employees in total jeopardy. The managers of the deep water oil rig platform from British Petroleum Corporation as well as Transocean Corporation had misread the pressure data from the oil well undersea and approved the use of sea water as a replacement for the drilling fluid normally used at designated pressure levels. The sea water was not sufficiently heavy to hinder the high pressure methane gas that had started leaking into the oil well (Shaw, 2012). As a result, the high pressure methane gas was able to reach the drilling rig and ignite, leading to the explosion that brought down the deep water oil rig platform.
It also emerged that the management of the Transocean Corporation and Halliburton, the mining and exploration company, and the cement manufacturing company contracted by British Petroleum Corporation, to drill the oil well were implementing cheap work and equipment measures. This implies that these two companies were bent on profiting from the drilling of the oil well at the expense of the safety of the employees working in this oil rig platform. Working cheaply enabled the two companies save a lot of resources at the expense of safety of the entire deep water oil rig platform, the stability and safety of the undersea oil well under drilling and the clean environment (Welch & Joyner, 2011).
It is quite apparent that had the management of Transocean Corporation and Halliburton put workers safety and well-being first as opposed to illegal profiteering, the deaths of the 11 workers may have been avoided. Another cause for the explosion that emerged from the numerous investigations and commissions by the United States government and Congress is the use of substandard cement in the walls of the oil well. It also emerged that the pipes at the drilling rig going into the oil well were not plugged with cement (Shaw, 2012).
It further emerged that British Petroleum Corporation did not conduct strengthened diagnostic measures in order to determine the stability of the cement walls at the oil well under the sea. This meant that any weakness of the oil well cement walls would not be detected in time. All these missteps led to the diminished capacity of the cement used to block the highly pressured methane gas from breaking the cement barrier and reaching the drilling rig. Poor maintenance of the equipment used at the deep water horizon oil rig platform is yet another reason blamed for the explosion and subsequent oil spill (Safety & Health, 2011).
Summary: As mentioned earlier, both Transocean Corporation, the owners of the Deep Water Horizon oil rig platform, as well as the cement company Halliburton were bent on cutting costs and making profit rather than ensuring the safety of the oil rig and workers. These two companies decided to shelve the risks and dangers of poorly maintained drilling equipment and this led to the explosion, oil spill, and death of 11 workers. The final cause of the deep water horizon oil rig platform explosion and oil spill was the failure to implement safety measures at the rig after a pressure test failed, indicating vulnerabilities at the oil well under sea as well as of the oil rig platform.
The inability to effectively handle the deep water horizon oil rig safety tests meant that British Petroleum, Transocean Corporation and Halliburton Cement Company would not be in a position to assess any safety issues that would arise in the future such as the gas explosion and the oil spill (Shaw,2012).
Following my close evaluation and analysis of the different measures and steps involving safety and workplace risk at our Deep Water Horizon Oil Rig, I arrived at the following conclusions;
First, due to the higher number of failed pressure test results from the undersea oil well being drilled, it is highly plausible that the oil well is under the risk of collapse. In the case that the pressure data continues to fluctuate, there is a high chance of being faced with a horrifying oil spill scenario.
Second, the cement used by the partner, Halliburton to strengthen the walls of the undersea oil-well as well as the drilling pipes seems to be relatively weak, since it is eroding at a higher rate as a result of the sea water, and requires weekly replacements. This is a sure signal of impending disaster at the oil rig.Third, some of the gas and cement diagnostic machines are faulty, and this can only mean that they are incapable of conducting sound safety and health diagnostics that ensure the safety and health of workers. With weak safety diagnostic measures, impending disaster at the Deep Water Horizon oil rig may be unpreventable.
In light of all the above critical observations, it is my strong recommendation that the management undertake an immediate reconnaissance study of the above critical areas. In the event that all the above vulnerable areas are not checked and rectified in time, it is highly possible that the undersea oil well may develop leaks and lead to a devastating oil spill that may cause the company massive and avoidable losses. Furthermore, the vulnerabilities, especially at the oil rig platform above the water surface, may lead to an explosion and a total collapse of the rig platform, which could result in unnecessary deaths and untold losses. I implore the management to take into consideration my humble and professional input.
Safety & Health (2011). Poor risk assessment contributed to BP Spill: Report. Retrieved on April 15, 2014 from http://www.safetyandhealthmagazine.com/articles/poor-risk-assessment-contributed-to-bp-spill-report-2
Shaw, A. (2012). BP charged over $4 billion in penalties from Deep Water Horizon Oil Spill. Retrieved on April 15, 2014 from http://www.xperthr.com/news/bp-charged-over-usd4-billion-in-penalties-from-deepwater-horizon-oil-spill/8141/
Welch, W and Joyner, C. (2011).Memorial service honors 11 dead oil rig workers. USA Today. Retrieved on April 15, 2014 from http://usatoday30.usatoday.com/news/nation/2010-05-25-oil-spill-victims-memorial_N.htm