Oil drilling accidents prompted new safety rules

LOS ANGELES (AP) — A federal agency that oversees offshore oil drilling identified so many accidents in a study published last year that officials were moving to create new safety rules before this week's oil rig explosion in the Gulf of Mexico.

A Minerals and Management Service study found 41 deaths and 302 injuries out of 1,443 incidents from 2001 to 2007, according to records obtained by the Associated Press on Friday. The agency determined the majority of the accidents were caused by human error and operational and maintenance deficiencies.

The new rules would require a rig operator to develop a program focused on preventing human error, an area that hadn't received as much attention in the past.

An explosion Tuesday sank a rig off the coast of Louisiana and 11 workers are still missing.