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Alarms on BP’s Deepwater Horizon Disabled to “Help Workers Sleep”

BP/Transocean’s concern for rig workers is touching. Key alarm systems on the Deepwater Horizon were disabled to “help workers sleep”:

Vital warning systems on the Deepwater Horizon oil rig were switched off at the time of the explosion in order to spare workers being woken by false alarms, a federal investigation has heard.

The revelation that alarm systems on the rig at the centre of the disaster were disabled – and that key safety mechanisms had also consciously been switched off – came in testimony by a chief technician working for Transocean, the drilling company that owned the rig.

Mike Williams, who was in charge of maintaining the rig’s electronic systems, was giving evidence to the federal panel in New Orleans that is investigating the cause of the disaster on 20 April, which killed 11 people. [Guardian]

What was setting off the alarms so often that they were keeping the workers up at night? Was it that they were disabled because they were prone to false alarms and therefore useless, or because the alarms were continually triggered by unsafe conditions that management preferred to ignore?

[Photo credit: Flickr user H. is for Home, licensed under Creative Commons.]


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