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Work on off-shore oil platforms involves risk of highly dangerous accidents. As seen in recent helicopter crashes, the commute to and from such jobs can also be risky. On Sunday, a helicopter operated by Petroleum Helicopters, Inc. (PHI) crashed, killing eight in transport to an oil platform off Louisiana’s coast.
The helicopter went down shortly after take-off on Sunday afternoon in the marshes of southern Louisiana's coast, reports the AP. It killed workers from Louisiana, Florida, Alabama and Texas. The lone survivor remains in critical condition at a suburban New Orleans medical facility.
PHI operates helicopter flights to oil and gas platforms sprinkled along Louisiana’s coast. Workers on the oil platforms often are ferried to work on such flights.
Workplace safety on offshore oil rigs is governed by Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) regulations. Traditionally, OSHA does not classify injuries occurring during employees' "normal commute" as "workplace injuries." However, the latest crash, in addition to a helicopter crash in December which killed three and left two missing at sea en route to a platform in the Gulf of Mexico, illustrates the potential danger to offshore oil workers before they even arrive at the platform.
The National Transportation Safety Board and PHI are currently investigating the yet unknown cause of the crash.
Potential increased drilling for oil off U.S. coastlines, combined with growing unemployment could mean more workers accept the risks associated with work on the platforms. In addition to the debated environmental concerns, workplace safety on the platforms and in transit to them will likely be watched.