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  Partnering for Shipbuilding Safety
  by Mark Briggs

Photo: Ship yardOSHA recently entered into partnership with the shipbuilding industry. First Wave Marine, Inc. and Bollinger Shipyards, Inc. became the first Shipbuilders Council of America (SCA) members to partner with OSHA since the council signed a partnering agreement last spring. That agreement, limited to the Houston area, is designed to encourage shipbuilders to increase safety and health awareness and reduce injuries and illnesses.Photo: Ship yard

Under terms of the partnership agreement, the companies' yards will conduct biweekly inspections and report the results to SCA each quarter. The council, in turn, will forward the compiled results to OSHA. This will enable OSHA to concentrate its resources on problem worksites rather than those that have demonstrated effective safety and health programs. "We're working together to get lower illness and injury rates," says John B. Miles, Regional Administrator for OSHA's Dallas Regional Office. "We won't come in and spend their time and ours on inspections, but we will cooperate with training."

First Wave president and chief operating officer Grady Walker says that because "Historically, shipyards have not distinguished themselves in safety, we've had to prove that we hold ourselves to a higher standard." He hopes the new agreement will help the company maintain its position as an industry leader in safety.

Photo: Shipyard Members"The health and safety of our people has always been of paramount importance to us," agrees Bollinger Chief Operating Officer Walter Berry. "Our goal of zero incidents requires teamwork like the Strategic Partnership Program combined with relentlessly pursing the elimination of unsafe actions and conditions."

OSHA targeted the shipyard industry as one of the five most dangerous industries and, as a result, increased inspections at shipyards. The targeting appears to be paying off. During the past 3 years, shipyard injuries have dropped significantly. SCA President Allen Walker credits cooperative efforts such as the partnership for encouraging safer shipyards and says the pilot project is likely to lead to a nationwide agreement.