Drastic changes are taking place in the oil industry workforce, with a major shift in the average age and expertise of oil industry employees. This mass changing of the guard is due to many longtime employees retiring and leaving the brunt of responsibilities in the hands of younger, less experienced workers. Though the idea of new jobs opening up for oil rig workers is a positive one overall, it also means a reduction in collective expertise, particularly in maritime safety practices, and could increase the likelihood of more offshore injuries occurring, including deaths at sea.

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Vice president of accreditation and certification at the International Association of Drilling Contractors, Mark Denkowski, told NPR that in-depth safety training programs are now mandatory and a distinct contrast from his own experience in the oil industry. “No longer would you have a person that’s just hired and literally put on a boat or on a helicopter and flown out to a rig with little or no orientation or training,” he said. “Companies are going to be required to prove that that individual has been through that orientation.”

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