So who protects the Gulf offshore worker from benzene? This is a sticky question for several reasons.
OSHA, or the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, is the federal agency that determines health and safety regulations in the American workplace. OSHA specifies that benzene quantities in the air be limited to 1 ppm per eight-hour workday and no more than 5 ppm over any fifteen-minute time period. OSHA also requires employers to provide safety equipment like respirators to workers exposed to higher levels.
But if you are an offshore worker, OSHA’s rules may not apply directly to you because this agency does not have strict authority over work done in oilfields off the coast.
On June 23, 2010, David Michaels, Assistant Secretary of OSHA, testified before the U.S. House of Representatives. His remarks followed the 2010 BP oil disaster. Michaels began his testimony by reminding the lawmakers that, “OSHA has no regulatory or enforcement authority over mobile oil drilling rigs or production platforms located on the Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) where the Deepwater Horizon was located.”
He added that the Coast Guard has “extensive regulations that apply to these facilities.”
According to Michaels, the Minerals Management Service (MMS) and USCG work together to ensure and enforce offshore safety standards. The OSHA guidelines are used to determine what is safe in benzene exposure.
So what does this mean for the Texas offshore oil industry worker? If you become ill after either long- or short-term exposure to benzene, you need to know exactly what your rights are and who is responsible for your exposure.
To find out what to do, contact the Texas maritime lawyers at Vujasinovic & Beckcom. We can advise you of not only your rights, but also your legal options. Call our toll free number at 1-877-724-7800 today or fill out the confidential form on this page.