News Release USDL 97-241
Friday, July 18, 1997
CONTACT: Frank Kane, (202) 219-8151
Longshoring Regulations Undergo Most Sweeping Overhaul
In 30 Years
Labor Secretary Herman Releases First Rules of Her Tenure
As many as 1,300 injuries may be avoided and several lives
saved each year in American ports under a sweeping update of
safety rules aimed at protecting workers in longshoring and
marine terminal work, Secretary of Labor Alexis M. Herman
The new rules, issued by the Occupational Safety and Health
Administration (OSHA), are expected to save more than 30,000 lost
work days each year, reducing the expenses employers incur to pay
for these injuries by several million dollars annually.
"These new regulations give us an opportunity to protect
workers against the hazards associated with new technology for
cargo-handling," Secretary Herman said. "Labor and management in
the industry -- including small employers -- worked with OSHA to
develop a solid consensus in support of these new rules."
Secretary Herman and Acting Assistant Secretary of Labor for
Occupational Safety and Health Gregory R. Watchman will sign the
new rules today during a ceremony in the Department of Labor with
representatives of unions and management in the industry. They
are the first worker safety rules issued since Herman became
Secretary of Labor in May.
Watchman noted that OSHA had been using standards for
longshoring that dated back to the 1960's. Conditions in the
industry have changed dramatically since then.
Cargo handling has become more capital intensive and
mechanized in the last 20 years. New technologies include
intermodalism, which describes the transfer of cargo from
one mode of transportation to another, such as from rail to ship;
containerization, the use of large containers for the
cargo; and roll-on, roll-off ships, vessels where the
cargo can be driven on or off the vessel on ramps and moved
within the vessel on ramps or elevators.
Although the weight of transported cargo (U.S. exports and
imports) remained unchanged between 1980 and 1990, the amount
shipped via intermodal containers more than doubled.
Changes in cargo transport technology have altered risks
that employees face on the docks and aboard ships. Mechanization
has reduced injuries due to overexertion and lifting, but new
risks have arisen, such as falls from containers stacked as high
as 60 feet or being struck by forklifts and tractor trailers
The entire set of longshoring standards has been modernized.
OSHA also amended parallel sections of the standards for
marine terminals to provide regulatory consistency between
shipboard and shoreside operations.
In addition to protecting workers against hazards posed by
new technology, the new regulations also permit OSHA to conform
to international shipping requirements. Ships that call on U.S.
ports are essentially work sites built to international
standards. OSHA's former longshoring rules referenced an
International Labor Organization (ILO) convention adopted in
1932. The new rules reference an ILO convention adopted in 1979
with requirements that will provide greater protection to workers
and address modern cargo handling methods.
OSHA estimates that the annual additional cost of compliance
will amount to about $3.1 million, but the economic savings due
to injuries that are avoided will be about $7 million annually,
resulting in a net savings of almost $4 million.
Organizations that worked with OSHA on the rules included
the International Longshoremen's Association, the International
Longshoremen's and Warehousemen's Union, the National Maritime
Safety Association, American Association of Port Authorities, the
Pacific Maritime Association, the International Cargo Handling
Coordination Association, the International Maritime
Organization, and the International Standards Organization.
OSHA plans an extensive outreach program that includes
development of training materials and training sessions in every
major port that will involve training OSHA and state inspectors,
employers, workers, and Coast Guard personnel.
States with their own OSHA-approved occupational safety and
health programs whose plans cover the issues of maritime safety
and health must revise their existing standard within six months
of the publication date of the final standard or show OSHA why
there is no need for such action because an existing state
standard covering this area is already "at least as effective" as
the revised federal standard.
Notice of the final rules will be published shortly in the
FACT SHEET ON LONGSHORING AND MARINE TERMINAL
SUMMARY OF FACTS
About 3,700 establishments are affected by the longshoring
and marine terminals standards.
More than 93,000 longshore workers are affected by the
standards. Most of them are employed in the marine cargo handling
industry with the remainder in other industries and
establishments such as electric utilities that unload coal from
barges or grain elevators that load grain onto barges.
About 1.74 billion tons of cargo are handled in the U.S.
The value of cargo is almost $900 billion.
There is an average of 18 fatalities per year during marine
cargo handling activities.
There are an estimated 7,593 injuries per year, including
5,060 lost-workday cases with an average of 38.9 lost workdays
Approximately 1,300 injuries and five fatalities are
projected to be avoided by compliance with the existing standards
and the provisions of the new rule.
Estimated cost to industry: about $3.1 million annually.
Engineering controls to be phased in to greatly reduce the
fall hazard of working on the tops of containers. Such falls
will be almost completely eliminated through use of positive
container securing devices. The requirement to use such devices
( e.g. semi-automatic twist locks that greatly reduce the need to
go aloft to unsecure and secure containers, and above-deck cell
guides for containers) in conjunction with the use of container
gantry cranes is being phased in over a two-year period. This
will allow sufficient time for the international shipping
community to comply.
During the phase-in period, fall protection systems must be
used. In addition, for ships being unloaded with non-container
gantry cranes where positive container securing devices do not
eliminate the need to work on top of containers, fall protection
also is required. Labor and management reached consensus on an 8-
foot fall protection trigger height. This will provide worker
protection consistent with other parts of the marine cargo
handling regulations and is economically and technically
These rules improve the old rules in the following ways:
specification changed to performance language where
in harmony with international guidelines. These international
provisions involve testing and inspection requirements for cranes
and other lifting gear. Because the requirements have a direct
impact on the international marine cargo community, OSHA is
providing ample phase-in periods for compliance: one year for
testing and four years for inspection.
modernized and clarified sections
mandatory and non-mandatory appendices are included to assist
compliance and provide improved worker protection.
Several new sections address changes in technology that have
occurred since the rule was first written:
Handling containers. Ports that use container gantry cranes
(specially designed cranes used exclusively for lifting
intermodal freight containers) perform vertical lifts only. A
non-vertical lift is typically made with four wires connected to
the hook of a non-container gantry crane or to a spreader bar.
Non-vertical lifts impose stress on the container and its
fittings, increasing the risk of a container failure. Non-
vertical lifts also increase the chance of snagging containers on
ships' parts and rigging. International container design
standards permit only vertical lifts, but non-vertical lifting is
a common practice. A prohibition on non-vertical lifts would
largely affect smaller ports and small employers. Based on a
study performed by a recognized international expert on
intermodal containers, and with the consensus of labor and
management, OSHA concluded that, under certain conditions, lifts
that were nearly vertical would be a practical and effective safe
practice. These "controlled conditions" are spelled out in the
Roll on/roll off (Ro/Ro) vessel operations. These are vessels
where the cargo can be driven on or off the vessel on ramps and
moved within the vessel on ramps or elevators. Traffic patterns
can vary greatly in these vessels, exposing personnel to being
struck by vehicular traffic. There are provisions for
establishing traffic control systems and protecting workers who
might use the ship's ramp for access.
Loading logs from the water.