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BP’s Morbid “Three Little Piggies” Memo

As if BP needed any more bad press: The Daily Beast has obtained a jaw-dropping internal memo from the oil giant that effectively prices the lives of its workers using a “Three Little Piggies” analogy. The gist of it is that while it’s worth it to build a more wolf-resistant, less vulnerable house for a little piggy up to a point, it ceases to be worth doing when the ‘house’ gets too expensive.

The document — which is several old — gives credence to the claims of BP critics who charge that the company values cost-savings over safety. The lawyer who released the memo claims that BP’s Risk Management office at the time valued the lives of its workers at $10 million apiece.

In 2005, 15 workers were killed and 170 people injured when a BP refinery exploded, and the ‘blast resistant’ language of the document becomes considerably less cutesy when you consider that BP allegedly killed the option of housing workers in blast-resistant buildings which might have saved their lives because they thought the buildings were too expensive. More recently, a $500,000 safety valve, had it been in place, could have prevented the devastation of the Gulf oil spill.

Two caveats: One, the document is from before the 2005 accident, and a BP spokesman tells the Daily Beast that the company’s culture has “fundamentally changed” since then. Two, though it’s not politically appealing, many large companies implicitly or explicitly put prices on their workers’ lives for risk management purposes — not that that makes BP look all that much better at present.

Lots more interesting analysis and background at The Daily Beast.

(via The Daily Beast)

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