Safety Last

Safety Last

Posted on June 13, 2013 at 6:52 PM

Updated Thursday, Jan 30 at 11:46 PM

NEW ORLEANS – Following an explosion on an offshore oil platform in November of 2012, Eyewitness Investigators David Hammer and Brendan McCarthy conducted a two-pronged investigation, Safety Last, into that incident and offshore safety in the Gulf of Mexico.

Pipeline to the Platform series investigated claims by dozens of Filipino guest workers that they were lured to Louisiana on promises of a better life, but who say they were lied to and treated like slaves.  They point to 18-hour workdays, sometimes up to 400 hours a month for measly pay. Some say they slept in a retro-fitted storage container, their passports held by their employer.

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Our lengthy Eyewitness Investigation uncovered a pipeline of human trafficking, with immigration paperwork allegedly based on lies, and workers holding numerous and fake social security numbers. We found a number of other possible violations, from immigration policies to labor and workplace standards.

Sources say a federal grand jury has begun looking into the human trafficking and fraud allegations.

David Hammer’s reporting focused on safety in the offshore industry and enforcement by the U.S. government.

Hammer’s pressure on Interior Department helped lead to announcements of new safety enforcement processes, such as agreements with the Coast Guard for monitoring offshore operations and launching a new Offshore Safety Institute to study and develop more advanced safety management systems.

After Hammer’s investigation of doctored water samples and covered-up oil spills, the Justice Department opened a new criminal investigation of ATP Oil & Gas based on the whistleblower’s report of dumped methanol and stayed a civil case filed in February pending the criminal investigation. 

Hammer’s pursuit of the safety records, including an Increased Oversight List that the Interior Department initially claimed did not exist, finally yielded the data, which was used in the Nov. 14 piece. That piece reported the most comprehensive view of corporate records to date.