News Release USDL: 96-199
Wednesday, May 22, 1996
Contact: Susan Hall Fleming (202) 219-8151
OSHA Updates Personal Protective Equipment
Requirements For Shipyards To Prevent 14,000 Injuries
One out of every three shipyard workers gets
hurt on the job. The Occupational Safety and Health
Administration (OSHA) wants that high injury
percentage reduced and so is updating the shipyard
employment rules for selecting and wearing personal
safety equipment such as hardhats, safety shoes,
flotation devices and body harnesses.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics,
40 percent of severe injuries in maritime activities
required more than 10 days away from work.
Compliance with the revised rules should prevent
1,550 serious workplace injuries annually along
with 12,650 less severe injuries, cutting total
workplace injuries by one-third.
"Wearing personal protective equipment is a key
part of a good safety and health program, and OSHA's
updated rules will make newer, more comfortable
equipment available to employees and employers,"
said Assistant Secretary Joseph A. Dear in announcing
the updated standards.
"We've worked carefully with stakeholders to
ensure that the revised standards are compatible
with other OSHA requirements yet meet the unique
working conditions of shipyard employment," Dear
said. He noted that OSHA relied heavily upon
recommendations from the shipyard employment
The new rules reflect improvements in equipment
since the original voluntary consensus standards
were adopted in the early 1970's such as recently
designed equipment that is more comfortable and
effective in protecting employees but out of sync
with outdated OSHA standards.
The shipyard personal protective rules cover
eye, face, head,footand hand protection; water
flotation; and body harnesses,lifelines and lanyards.
The updated rules include new provisions on selecting
equipment, handling defective and damaged equipment
and training employees. The revised rules require
employers to phase out body belts used for fall
protection and non-locking snaphooks by Jan. 1, 1998.
Under the new standard, shipyard employers
will assess hazards, by trade rather than by
work area, to determine the need for protective
equipment. Then employers will select appropriate
equipment and train employees in using and caring
for it. The standard includes two nonmandatory
appendices covering hazard assessment and testing
procedures for personal fall protection systems.
The U.S. shipyard industry employs about 106,000
with 79,000 production workers. OSHA's updated
personal protection standard is expected to cost
the 500 firms in the industry about $2 per employee
for a total cost of $163,000.
OSHA proposed the changes in personal protective
equipment requirements in 1988 as part of an overall
effort to update shipyard standards. The shipyard
industry specifically asked the agency to develop a
comprehensive set of standards that would incorporate
applicable general industry rules tailored to the
needs of shipyard employment.
Corresponding personal protective equipment
requirements for general industry were updated
April 6, 1994. The agency reopened its rulemaking
on shipyard employment personal protective equipment
July 6, 1994, to incorporate information from the
general industry rulemaking and provide a written
comment period for the shipyard PPE proposal so the
public could have an opportunity to comment on the newly
incorporated materials. Then on January 25, 1995,
the agency held an informal public meeting with
shipyard stakeholders to discuss specific issues
such as certification of hazard assessment,
certification of training and training elements
and body belts and body harnesses.
The standard is scheduled for publication in
the May 24 Federal Register. Most provisions
take effect Aug. 22, 1996.
Paperwork requirements for the standard are
pending Office of Management and Budget approval.
Written comments on the paperwork requirements
should be submitted to the OSHA Docket Office,
Docket #S-045, Room N2625, 200 Constitution Ave.,
N.W., Washington, D.C. 20210 no later than July
23, 1996. Comments of 10 or fewer pages may be
faxed to (202) 219-5046.
States and territories operating their own
safety and health plans that cover shipyard
employment safety and health must adopt comparable
standards within six months. Five states
(California, Minnesota, Oregon, Vermont and
Washington) cover private sector on-shore
The remaining states and territories must
extend coverage to state and local government
employees engaged in shipyard employment activities.
These include Alaska, Arizona, Connecticut,
Hawaii, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Maryland,
Michigan, Nevada, New Mexico, New York, North
Carolina, Puerto Rico, South Carolina, Tennessee,
Utah, Virginia, Virgin Islands and Wyoming.