Kia Franklin

Trial Commences Over Whether BP Put “Profits over Safety,” Causing Employee Deaths

The first trial related to the deadly BP explosion that occured back in 2005, commenced with opening statements today, according to this article. The blast was "the deadliest petrochemical industry accident in the U.S. in more than a decade, killing 15 people and injuring more than 170 others. [It] shattered windows and walls miles (kilometers) away."

The article gives spotlight to some of the individuals and families that were affected by the blast, including the following five plaintiffs who say they have suffered a variety of injuries, including back problems, hearing loss and post traumatic stress disorder:

- The 6- and 11-year-old sons of Rene Cardona Sr., 26, from Baytown, a contract worker for engineering and construction company Contech Control Services who committed suicide six weeks after the blast. One lawsuit was filed on behalf of the sons.

- Nara and David Wilson, both 44, from Santa Fe, Texas. The couple, who filed separate suits, worked for mechanical contracting company Altair Strickland.

- Scott Kilbert, 48, from Bellville, an instrumentation supervisor for construction company JE Merit.

- Rolando Bocardo, 41, from Baytown, an instrument fitter for JE Merit.

According to the article, plaintiffs' attorneys asserted that BP used the "profits over safety" or "safety is too expensive" business model in its operations, thus fatally endangering its employees. The article also cites to findings from the U.S. Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board that "BP fostered bad management at the plant and that cost-cutting moves by BP were factors in the explosion," and to an internal report showing that "there was a culture at the plant that seemed to ignore risk, tolerated noncompliance and accepted incompetence."

If the studies are correct and the plaintiffs prevail, this litigation over the blast--which has already set the company back at least $2 billion in compensation and lost profits--will prove the profits over safety business model inefficient so long as we have a strong, accessible civil justice system to hold companies accountable.

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Posted at 3:09 PM, Sep 05, 2007 in Workplace Safety
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