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OSHA Stiffens Shipyard Protections

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

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More toilets, sanitation measures to protect coatings workers, updated requirements and new protections should help prevent about 350 serious injuries a year among shipyard workers, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration said Monday (May 2) in announcing a new rule to protect those workers.

“This final rule is the result of collaboration between OSHA and the maritime industry,” said Dr. David Michaels, OSHA Administrator. “Shipyard work is dangerous, and we believe we have crafted a rule that protects workers while balancing employer concerns regarding implementation.”

Federal safety protections for shipyard workers have not been updated since 1972.
The final rule on General Working Conditions in Shipyard Employment outlines updated, expanded and new requirements, including some for workers involved in coatings work.

OSHA fact sheets outline particular changes in the areas of medical services and first aid; motor vehicle safety equipment, operation and maintenance; lockout/tags-plus coordinator and log; and sanitation.

Rules for Painters

The rules spell out procedures for eliminating exposure of food, beverages and tobacco to hazardous or toxic substances.

Employers “must inform each employee engaged in the application of paints or coatings about the need to wash hands and face thoroughly before eating, drinking, or smoking,” the rule says.

The requirement also applies to other operations in which a worker may ingest or absorb hazardous or toxic substances. “Employees also should be encouraged to remove surface contaminants at the end of their workshift,” the rule notes.

First Updates Since 1972

In all, the final rule addresses 14 workplace safety and health categories, updating and clarifying provisions in the standards that had largely gone unchanged since 1972.  The updates include:

  • Establishing minimum lighting for certain work sites;
  • Accounting for employees at the end of job tasks or work shifts when working alone;
  • Adding uniform criteria to ensure an adequate number of trained first-aid providers; and
  • Sanitation requirements.

New Provisions

The rule also includes new provisions for the control of hazardous energy and motor vehicle safety.  Until now, the maritime industry had no specific standard to address the control of hazardous energy, although some employers implemented portions of other lockout/tagout rules.

Also, because transportation incidents account for nearly 20 percent of all shipyard fatalities, the new provisions require the use of seatbelts when operating motor vehicles in a shipyard.
An updated OSHA web page includes the rule and frequently asked questions about it.

The rule takes effect Aug. 1, except for the provisions in §1915.89, which take effect Oct. 31, 2011. The rule applies to all shipyard employment at landside facilities, on vessels (including commercial fishing vessels), and in vessel sections.

OSHA Resurrects Maritime Safety Panel

Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis has re-established the charter of the Maritime Advisory Committee on Occupational Safety and Health to address maritime worker health and safety issues. The panel, first established in 1995, focuses on the shipbuilding, shipbreaking, ship repair, longshoring and marine terminal industries in the United States.

The rules include requirements for hand washing by coatings workers and portable hand washing facilities.

The committee, which represents a cross-section of the industry, addresses activities related to priorities set by OSHA, including worker training, education and assistance; setting and enforcing standards; and assurance of safe and healthful working conditions. The new 15-member committee held its initial meeting in Washington in April.


Tagged categories: Health and safety; OSHA; Painters; Regulations; Shipyards; Workers

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