The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement has been strongly focused on increasing offshore worker safety and preventing accidents like the Gulf of Mexico BP explosion last year.  The agency has had its work cut out for it, as it struggles to deal with years of ineptitude, negligence and inappropriate relationships between the offshore drilling industry and its own officials.

As maritime lawyers however, we have been pleased to see that the agency is taking steps to undo some of the damage.  Not only is the agency in the process of hiring more inspectors and increasing its inspection programs, but it is also showing signs that it is taking worker safety very seriously by understanding these issues first.  The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement has asked the National Research Council’s Marine Board to conduct a study into worker safety during offshore renewable energy operations.

The study will focus on identifying the specific workplace hazards involved in renewable energy operations on the Outer Continental Shelf.  The study will specifically look at risky operations when workers are in close proximity to high-power electrical devices, the safety of crane and diving operations, and the safe use of carbon dioxide fire suppression systems.

The study will identify the gaps that exist in current offshore safety procedures, and make recommendations on how worker safety can be further enhanced on the Outer Continental Shelf.  The Marine Board will rely on feedback from offshore worker safety experts, experts in offshore construction, oil and gas operations, offshore maintenance and high- power electrical operations to make its recommendations.

The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement expects the study to be completed by July 31, 2012.