OSHA, USCG Sign Pact on Gulf Oil Spill Cleanup Safety

The federal on-scene coordinator for the BP Deepwater Horizon response and OSHA announced the signing of a memorandum of understanding late last week concerning worker safety and health issues related to the Deepwater Horizon oil spill response in the Gulf of Mexico.

The MOU solidifies the close working relationship between the Coast Guard and OSHA, and establishes a specific mechanism for coordination between the Deepwater Horizon FOSC and OSHA. OSHA and the FOSC said they recognize the importance of close cooperation among all agencies that have responsibilities during the oil cleanup efforts. The MOU furthers joint efforts to monitor compliance with safety standards and to protect workers.

"We are actively collaborating with the FOSC and the Coast Guard to ensure the protection of workers involved in the oil spill cleanup," said OSHA head Dr. David Michaels. "OSHA staff is on the ground proactively monitoring worker safety and health. Our staff is on the beaches, at the staging areas and on the boats to make sure BP is protecting clean-up workers from safety and health hazards."

"From the beginning of our response to this tragic event, we have placed preservation of life and safety at the top of our list of priorities," said Coast Guard Rear Adm. James Watson, federal on scene coordinator for the BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill response. "My signature on this MOU reasserts our commitment to the safety of the more than 24,000 people who are working to mitigate the threat from this catastrophic oil spill."

The federal on-scene coordinator and OSHA promised to share relevant information to promote worksite safety in the Deepwater Horizon Response, including information provided by workers, local government officials, or any other person.

OSHA has the authority to conduct safety and health inspections to ensure employees are being protected and to determine if the worksite is in compliance with safety and health standards and regulations promulgated under the Occupational Safety and Health Act and its general duty clause. The MOU provides the means for OSHA to notify the FOSC when it intends to take enforcement action against BP, BP's contractors, or any other employer engaged in response activities.

To download a copy of the MOU, click here.

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