The dangers of working in the oil industry are well documented. However, many assume the risk to provide for themselves and their families. This dangerous work helps our nation meet its oil requirements. Unfortunately, sometimes, the dangers prove all-too-true true and an offshore accident occurs.

As New Orleans continues to recover from the devastation of the BP oil spill, last Friday a new explosion rocked Black Elk Energy offshore platform, threatening life in the bayou. One worker was killed and another still remains missing days after the accident.

The federal Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement has ordered that the company shut down all similar operations in the region due a number of non-compliance incidents that have occurred in the five years the company has been in business. Before the company can start operations again, Black Elk must submit a detailed improvement plan of compliance to BSEE by December 15, 2012.

As for the missing worker, Black Elk has called off the search. At the time of this article, Jerome Malagapo, of the Philippines, is still missing. Though from another country, the family of Malagapo is not without some legal recourse.

Companies like Black Elk are responsible for the safety of their workers. Through the doctrine of maintenance and cure, these companies are responsible for free medical care and basic living expenses to injured seamen and other offshore workers. The doctrine also outlines that companies are to provide medications and medical devices to injured offshore workers until they have fully healed or are able to rejoin the workforce.

Source: The Times-Picayune, “Oil platform owner Black Elk Energy ordered to make immediate safety improvements at all offshore facilities,” Mark Schleifstein, Nov. 21, 2012