Tuesday, July 26, 2005

BP Amoco: Safety Pays (But Not As Well As High Gas Prices)

Safety and health add value - to your business; to your workplace; to your life. -- OSHA

I've never been a fan of the "safety pays" slogans that OSHA seems to have fallen in love with. You know, if you just convince corporate America that safe companies will be more profitable, you won't need all those anti-capitalist, business-killing OSHA regulations and big government interference with the magic of the marketplace.

The problem is what if safety doesn't pay? What happens when companies make more money endangering their workers than making conditions safe, or when accidents cost money -- but not really that much?

British Petroleum is taking a hit in its bottom line because of the March 23 explosion at its Texas City refinery that killed 15 workers and injured 170.

Well, not exactly a hit, more like a small pinch. BP announced a $5.66 billion profit for the second quarter of 2005, but it was $700 million less than it would have been due to settlements related to the March 23 Texas City refinery explosion that killed 15 workers. (That would be slightly more than 1% of it's 2nd quarter profits.) Profits were up $4.38 billion in the second quarter of 2004, mainly because of record high oil prices.

Although BP has paid out tens of millions of dollars to many of the workers killed on the job, it has yet to reach settlements on the workers seriously injured.
Rob Ammons, a Houston attorney handling many of the injured workers' suits, said BP's initial response to claims has been rapid and appreciated.

"It was refreshing to see BP take a reasonable approach to resolution of the death claims and we're still waiting to see if that continues on to the folks whose backs have been broken and lives have been ruined but remain alive," he said.

"One would think that if they do accept responsibility for this, then it should extend not just to those who were killed, but also to those who were hurt and are unable to work any more because of those injuries."

Related Stories