News of BP’s agreement to pay $4.5 billion to the US government and plead guilty to 12 felony counts and two misdemeanor counts again have evoked thoughts of safety in the Gulf of Mexico. Considering the oil and gas industry is an inherently dangerous business with combustible hydrocarbons posing hazards, companies pump substantial dollars and planning into risk assessment plans and training in hopes of avoiding accidents. For BP, enhanced safety practices following the accident included requiring dynamically positioned drill rigs have at least two blind shear rams and a casing shear ram with the subsea BOP. New standards were implemented for maintaining and testing BOPs. A new well start-up procedure was introduced. A deepwater well capping transportable package was created. In addition, a centralized safety and operation organization was formed. These were only a few of many practices put in place following the accident. For large and small independents alike, assessing potential hazards could involve not only emphasizing safety procedures for daily tasks that could lead to mishaps, but also evaluating new risks when exploring in new areas or using new technologies. Companies that continuously stress the importance of safety, communication, and consistently update plans should be commended. For other companies, assessing risks may involve devising new technology in an effort to make operations safer. That was the case for Reflex Marine. The UK-based company is trying to do its part to reduce risks associated with crane transfers. A video on YouTube shows how crane personnel basket transfers can be dangerous. The video shows how one of three men hanging onto the basket comes close to falling into the water during the transfer. Reflex Marine announced this month that it is making its Frog transfer capsules available in the US. The Frog, available in three models, allows for the transfer of offshore workers and provides an alternative to rope and basket transfers. Two of the models also have stretcher capability. The transfer units have seats with restraints or safety belts, a stainless steel frame, buoyancy panels for immersions, and springs to take in the impact when landing. The transfer units have been around for about three or four years, according to Reflex Marine’s James Strong. The technology is in use in areas that include the North Sea, West Africa, Middle East, Canada, and Russia. During an event touting the units, the company also handed out 10 golden rules for crane transfer operators. Among the rules were: understand your risks; know your vessels, cranes, and transfer device; be familiar with your conditions and crews; plan your lift; if in doubt, stop; recognize complex operations; and emergency planning. “It just seems to be the right time,” Strong said of why the company decided to bring the technology to the US this month. “There’s a huge emphasis on safety.” And the record criminal fine against BP for the deadly Deepwater Horizon accident shows the US government is taking safety seriously, too. The actions by the Department of Justice and the Securities and Exchange Commission could give smaller companies with shallower pockets incentive to do better; however, the fines probably won’t do much damage to BP’s pocketbook. The $4.5 billion that BP agreed to pay was less than the $5.2 billion the company said it earned for the 3Q 2012. Contact the author, Velda Addison, at