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Proposed House Bill Extends Whistleblower Protection to Oil/NatGas Workers in OCS

A trio of Democratic lawmakers from California has introduced in the House a bill that would extend whistleblower protections to workers performing oil and natural gas exploration, drilling, production or oil spill cleanup on the Outer Continental Shelf (OCS).

The Offshore Oil and Gas Worker Whistleblower Protection Act of 2015 (HR 2824) would prohibit employers from discharging or otherwise discriminating against employees who report that they believe the employer is violating the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act (OCSLA).

The bill would also protect employees who report injuries or unsafe conditions related to offshore work; refuse to work based on a good faith belief that the offshore work could cause injury, impairment or a spill; or refuse to perform work that they believe violates the OCSLA.

"Workers on the Deepwater Horizon knew something was wrong long before the explosion sunk the rig and oil gushed into the Gulf of Mexico,” said Rep. Mark DeSaulneir, who co-sponsored the bill with Jared Huffman and Lois Capps. “Yet, the fear of being fired kept them from reporting dangerous workplace conditions.

"My district is home to several oil refineries, and our community knows firsthand the long lasting impact of preventable accidents."

"The reality is that oil and gas production is a dirty and dangerous business, regardless of whether it is done onshore or offshore," Capps said. "The men and women working on offshore platforms know this better than anyone.

“These workers have no whistle-blower protections today, and given the hazards, they should be protected by the highest standards of workplace safety if they report concerns about health and safety conditions on these platforms."

The bill has been referred to the House Committee on Education and the Workforce.

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