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Following a two year investigation of BP’s refineries in 5 states, a safety panel headed by former Secretary of State James Baker determined that BP lacked important workplace safety measures and had a general lax attitude towards the safety of its employees. The safety investigation was prompted by the explosion in Texas City, Texas which killed 15 and injured 170. While the panel couldn’t point to any specific instances where BP willfully put its workers at risk, it did determine that BP took short cuts to increase efficieny. These short cuts ultimately put the workers at risk.

The panel has recommended that BP increase its safety measures and encourages an independent review of BP’s plants for the next five years. BP’s CEO has agreed to implement the panel’s recommendations in all 23 of its refineries.

The question here is why did it take 15 deaths for a major company like BP to be held responsible for its cost (safety) cutting measures? Companies with resources such as BP are the most able to implement appropriate safety precautions and should be responsible to the point of setting the bar to smaller companies. This panel has pointed out how both industry and the government often looks away, choosing only to see the big profit margins the company makes.

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