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Oil drilling company asks evacuated workers to sign waivers

Workers pulled out of the Gulf of Mexico when BP’s Deepwater Horizon oil rig exploded last month were greeted by employees from the drilling contractor Transocean with waivers stating that they were not injured in the explosion.

The waivers required workers to state what they were doing at the time of the explosion and state that they were not witnesses to the incident requiring evacuation.

One worker, Chris Choy, told PBS News Hour that “I had been up for almost 40 hours, and just gone through hell. And they want to throw papers in my face for me to sign to take them, you know, out of their responsibility.”

Public Citizen has already pointed out serious problems with BP’s safety record, showing that it repeatedly put workers in dangerous situations.  Just last year, OSHA issued the largest penalty ever – $87.4 million – for failing to fix violations for which it had previously been cited.

But despite multi-million dollar penalties from multiple agencies, BP continued to put its workers in danger.  Last week, Senators Rockefeller and Byrd introduced two amendments to the financial reform bill that would make BP and other companies accountable to shareholders and the public for workplace safety violations.  These amendments would require disclosure of workplace safety violations in a report filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).

Lena Pons is a policy analyst for Public Citizen.