Who’s Really To Blame ?

   As the oil spill in the Gulf continues, there has been a lot of finger-pointing going on. I have been guilty of it myself.

  Of course BP gets the biggest part of the blame according to the media and the administration in Washington. Some on the right have blamed Pres. Obama for how long it has taken to stop the leak and for doing little more than threatening law suits.

  Now I am going to tell you all something , and it may not be a very politically correct point of view, but it is one from someone who works in a very similar situation as the oil well employees.

  Let us not lose sight of the fact that this leak started after an explosion. We have been told that an emergency shut off valve failed to operate properly, possibly due to a dead battery.

  Now there is no question that corporate BP will pay the bill for the clean up and will most likely be sued out of business by private citizens who have been impacted by the spill.

  But let me tell you that this accident didn’t happen because corporate BP didn’t have enough regulation from the federal government. This industry is one of the most regulated industries in the world. There are redundant safety measures in place to ensure that these types of accidents are kept to a minimum.

  So what happened? Well as someone who works daily in the same industry, only in a different aspect of it, let me tell you that it is not up to a corporate CEO to check the charge on the battery, it is not an assistant vice president who comes out to the oil well to test the emergency shut off valve. It is average employees who are responsible for these things.

  In my job I am required by my company and by law to test similar shut off valves daily on my vehicle. I am also responsible for leak test at the homes of our customers. I have to make decisions that could affect the lives of people I may never have actually met. It is up to me to make sure that I follow all safety procedures. My superiors ensure that I am trained and qualified to do the job, but I must have the integrity to actually do the job correctly.

  News is coming out now that employees on the rig had been complaining about problems for weeks leading up to the accident. If this is true and nothing was done, then that is a systemic problem with the chain of command at BP. But ultimately it still comes down to individual employees allowing this to continue.

  Like my own company I am sure that BP has an anonymous call line to report such problems. I also am fond of saying that ” just keep going up the chain of command and eventually you will find someone who cares”.

  This accident wasn’t caused by stock holders, it wasn’t caused by CEOs, it wasn’t caused by the board of directors. This accident very likely happened because some employee pencil whipped a safety check list, leaving it for the next shift. This doesn’t lessen BP’s responsibility for the clean up. It is up to the company to train their employees and enforce their  policy and the law.

 But ultimately it will always come down to the individual and whether they will do the right thing or the easy thing.  My personal; motto at work is ” the easy way is not always the right way, and the right way is almost never easy”.

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