Houston Maritime Lawyers: Safety Reforms Still Needed One Year After Deepwater Horizon Disaster

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Kurt Arnold and Jason Itkin of the Houston maritime law firm, Arnold & Itkin LLP, say the federal government and oil industry have been too slow to act on improving offshore worker safety.

Houston maritime injury attorney, Houston maritime accident lawyer, Texas maritime law firm, offshore worker accidents, oil rig worker injury, BP oil spill, Deepwater Horizon anniversary, Jones Act, Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act

Houston maritime lawyer Kurt Arnold

On the whole, I don’t think you can say that offshore workers are much safer today than they were one year ago.

One year after the deadly Deepwater Horizon oil rig fire and explosion, reforms are still needed to provide better safety for offshore workers, Houston maritime injury attorneys Kurt Arnold and Jason Itkin said today.

“On the whole, I don’t think you can say that offshore workers are much safer today than they were one year ago,” said Arnold, speaking on the anniversary of the April 20, 2010, Deepwater Horizon disaster. “There are still many important steps that need to be taken, especially with the design, inspection and maintenance of blowout preventers.”

The fire and explosion aboard the deepwater drilling rig off the Louisiana coast killed 11 workers, injured several others and spilled nearly 5 million barrels of oil into the Gulf of Mexico. BP was leasing the Macondo well from Transocean at the time of the fatal offshore accident.

According to the Houston Chronicle, a four-month investigation concluded that one cause of the disaster was the failure of a blowout preventer to cut through a drill pipe that had been dislodged during the incident, which would have sealed off the leak.

A Shell Oil Co. engineer told the newspaper that one way to address such a failure would be to require that blowout preventers have at least two sets of pipe-cutting components, or shear rams.

“We still have no regulation requiring that blowout preventers have multiple shear rams that would help to prevent another tragedy like the Deepwater Horizon,” Itkin said. “The oil rigs in the Gulf and other American waters clearly are not as safe as they could be.”

An article in today’s Shreveport Times pointed out that, despite more than 150 bills being introduced in Congress since last April to improve oil rig safety and enhance government oversight of the offshore oil drilling industry, no major legislation had yet passed.

“There has been a lot of talk about protecting offshore workers, but unfortunately, the action hasn’t matched the rhetoric,” Itkin said.

Arnold and Itkin, the co-founders of the Houston maritime law firm Arnold & Itkin LLP, have years of experience in the Jones Act and other maritime laws.

In the year since the Deepwater Horizon disaster, the Houston maritime accident lawyers have worked to protect the rights of injured Transocean workers and Gulf Coast businesses seeking redress for injuries caused by the Gulf oil spill.

They have shared their insights about the accident with national and local media, including the Wall Street Journal, CNN’s “Anderson Cooper 360,” National Public Radio’s “All Things Considered,” the Houston Chronicle and Houston’s ABC television affiliate.

Arnold said that he hopes new requirements for blowout preventers and other safety reforms are enacted before the next anniversary of the BP Deepwater Horizon disaster.

“The bottom line is that these maritime workers are doing a job that is vital to our nation's energy needs and we cannot have them unnecessarily risking their health and safety,” Arnold said. “We owe them a safer work environment.”

About Arnold & Itkin LLP

The Houston maritime lawyers at Arnold & Itkin LLP, a personal injury law firm based in Houston, Texas, understand the complexities and legalities of maritime law and have a successful track record of verdicts and settlements in favor of maritime workers. The law firm provides legal guidance on all aspects of maritime law and the benefits offshore workers are entitled to under the Jones Act, the Death on the High Seas Act, the principle of maintenance and cure, or the Longshore and Harbor Workers' Compensation Act. Arnold & Itkin LLP handles maritime claims at port cities along the Gulf Coast in Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. The firm can be contacted toll free at (866) 222-2606 or through its website.

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