The oil industry is crowing that it learned valuable safety lessons from the Deepwater Horizon disaster two years ago, where 11 workers were killed, according to a recent report by Vermont Public Radio (VPR).
But any such knowledge doesn’t address the new issue the industry faces, which is that its workers are now younger, less experienced and therefore more likely to be prone to accidents.
There has been a wave of older oil field workers retiring, according to VPR, leaving crews of younger workers to tackle drilling in more difficult — and dangerous — drilling sites, such as the Artic and under the ocean. That’s a recipe for disaster and death.
Look at the Deepwater Horizon accident. VPR said that a probe by the U.S. Department the Interior and a presidential commission determined that “there was a reorganization of personnel on the rig just before the accident.” The crew leaders had years of experience in the field, but not in taking charge of a team.
So while there is now a demand for experienced oil workers, there are fewer of them. VPR cited a report that said that 22,000 veteran geoscientists and engineers will be getting out of the business by 2015.
The oil industry maintains that it is making a concerted effort to train the newbies in the industry, to keep them safe, according to VPR. And now the federal government has set some mandatory guidelines for training.
It still remains to be seen is this all works to safeguard oil workers without the experience, seasoning and skill of those that they are replacing.