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6 Beyond ComplianCe Foundations for Future Safety efforts In the many decades since the oil and gas industry began working along the coastline and, ultimately, moved offshore to explore for and produce oil and gas, occupational safety appears to have improved through the efforts of companies, industry associations, and regula- tors. The offshore environment did not start out as a safe one in which to work. Initial ad hoc and experimental designs for drilling from vessels and platforms in shallow water resulted in overturned vessels, fires, explosions, blowouts, and extensive loss of life in the 1950s and 1960s. Inconsisten- cies in reporting and reporting requirements make it impossible to assess accident rates during the early years as companies moved farther offshore, but a series of di- sasters during this period illustrated the risks and motivated action by industry and government. From the mid-1960s through the 1990s, the industry began to work collectively to solve design and equipment problems. Industry associations such as the American Petroleum Institute (API) and the Offshore Opera- tors Committee (OOC) advised the federal government on changes that would improve safety, developed and issued a series of recommended prac- DoD phoTo By spC 2nD Class JonaThen e. Davis D o D ph o To B y s pC 2n D C la s s Ju sTin sTu m B eR g
Strengthening the Safety Culture of the Offshore Oil and Gas Industry 7 tices and standards, and instituted changes in required training programs for offshore personnel. The U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) and U.S. Geologi- cal Survey (USGS) (which served as a safety regulator during this period) also began enforcing new occupational safety and other regulations to enhance safety, which expanded over time. Government regulators and industry officials did not always agree on how to address safety concerns. During the 1990s, API developed a recommended practice for safe operations (API Recommended Practice [RP] 75), which began as a voluntary standard. As the number of compa- nies following RP 75 subsequently declined, industry resisted the efforts of federal regulators to require all companies to comply with it. The three government departments currently responsible for regulat- ing the offshore industryâthe U.S. Department of the Interior (DOI), USCG, and the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT)âimple- ment safety and environmental regulations according to their capabilities and expertise. USCG regulates nearly all maritime activities, and DOTâs Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) regulates all pipelines onshore and some offshore. The capabilities and expertise for permitting and inspecting oil and gas wells and production (including producer pipelines) on the U.S. Outer Continental Shelf reside in DOIâs Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE). In October 2010, 3 months after flow from the Macondo well was stopped, DOI (through a predecessor bureau to BSEE) published a final Safety DoD phoTo By peTTy offiCeR 3RD Class paTRiCk kelley