The Deepwater Horizon oil spill and explosion that took place in the Gulf of Mexico in April 2010 dumped more than 200 million gallons of oil into the ocean and cost 11 lives. In the aftermath of this disaster, federal agencies began investigating the causes and contributing factors that led up to the largest offshore oil spill in history. As a result, new regulations and restrictions are planned for new and existing offshore drilling projects to provide added protections for workers and marine ecosystems in the vicinity of these oil rigs and petroleum extraction sites. A New Sheriff in Town The appointment of a new head for the U.S. Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE) may signal a new era of more diligent inspections and increased focus on compliance with current regulations in the oil industry. As the former Deputy Commandant for Operations for the United States Coast Guard, Brian Salerno has extensive experience in maritime safety and understands the risks involved in the offshore drilling environment. Salerno reiterated the dangers inherent in the oil industry during a speech given immediately after he assumed control over BSEE, stating, "Risk does not discriminate. It is not isolated to highly technical, deep water operations or high-temperature and high-pressure reservoirs." More than Just Talk Brian Salerno took the reins at BSEE on August 26, 2013. He has already announced plans to release new regulations and requirements governing the construction and use of blowout preventers in deep-sea drilling projects as soon as December 31, 2013. The Deepwater Horizon catastrophe was due in part to the failure of the blowout preventer that should have prevented oil from spilling into the Gulf of Mexico; intense pressure inside the vertical drill pipes caused them to shift sideways and to prevent the proper functioning of the blowout preventer system. New and stricter regulations are expected for the installation, implementation and inspection of new blowout preventer systems and other anti-spill technologies in the oil rig and deep-sea oil drilling environment. Implementations May Take Years Even if these new regulations are put in place early next year, the oil industry is likely to require a lengthy period of preparation before achieving compliance with the new regulations. In some cases, structural issues will present obstacles to full compliance; retrofitting and rebuilding costs are also likely to slow down the safety process for many large and small oil firms along the coasts of the U.S. and throughout the Gulf of Mexico. Reducing Risk for Oil Industry Workers Under the provisions of the Merchant Marine Act of 1920, more commonly referred to as the Jones Act, workers on offshore rigs and drilling facilities are entitled to collect damages for injuries sustained while working on board ship or in offshore facilities if those injuries were caused by unsafe working conditions. For example, workers who were injured in the Deepwater Horizon incident have filed suit against BP to obtain a settlement for medical bills, lost wages and other costs due to their Gulf of Mexico injury at sea. In some cases, filing a civil suit for compensation may be the only way to hold oil companies responsible for their negligence and failure to maintain a safe working environment for their employees. Seeking the help of an offshore injury lawyer in obtaining a settlement for injuries or losses sustained from these incidents can provide valuable closure for those who have been injured or who have lost family members due to an oil rig explosion or other unsafe conditions at sea. A knowledgeable oil rig accident attorney can often demonstrate the culpable negligence of oil company executives and management personnel in allowing unsafe conditions to persist on board oil rigs and other drilling platforms in the Gulf of Mexico and in other oil extraction sites around the world. By taking steps to ensure that oil industry executives are held responsible for their criminal negligence in these cases, family members and injured workers can help to create a safer environment for workers in the offshore drilling environment.