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U.S. government beefs up rig safety rules

(Xinhua)

13:22, September 14, 2011

HOUSTON, Sept. 13 (Xinhua) -- The U.S. Interior Department proposed new requirements Tuesday to beef up workplace safety standards for offshore oil-and-gas operations.

The proposed requirements, announced by the Interior Department's Bureau of Ocean Energy, Management, Regulation and Enforcement, are built on the workplace safety rule the agency imposed last October following the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

The move will add greater protection by supplementing operator's Safety and Environmental Management Systems with employee training, engaging personnel in safety management, and strengthening auditing procedures by requiring them to be completed by independent third parties, an Interior Department summary states.

Proposed changes include additional requirements for conducting job safety analyses, new procedures for employees to implement a "stop work authority" when witnessing dangerous activities, "clearly defined" requirements for who has safety and decision-making powers at offshore facilities, among others.

"Our goal is to ensure that safety is front and center every day, for every worker, on every project," Interior Secretary Ken Salazar said in a statement.

BP's Macondo well ruptured after an oil rig exploded and sank on April 20 last year, spewing up to 4.9 million barrels of oil into the Gulf of Mexico for nearly three months in the world's worst marine oil spill.

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