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Longshoring and Marine Terminals: Fatal Facts

The Longshoring and Marine Terminals: Fatal Facts have been developed to help employers and workers in the maritime cargo handling industry to recognize and control the significant hazards commonly experienced in longshoring and marine terminal operations. This document is comprised of guidesheets that address the most frequent sources of fatalities in the maritime cargo handling industry. Each guidesheet contains a hazard summary describing the circumstances that may have contributed to the hazards and how the specific accident could have been prevented.

One of the goals of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is to reduce the rate of injuries and illnesses in the Longshoring/Marine Terminals Industry. To help reduce these rates, OSHA published updated safety and health rules in July, 1997 which address cargo handling and related activities conducted aboard vessels (see the Longshoring standard at 29 CFR Part 1918) and landside operations related to the movement of vessel cargo (see the Marine Terminals standard at 29 CFR Part 1917). The Power Industrial Truck (PIT) training standard was published in 1998 to reduce incidents involving PIT accidents. In support of these initiatives, the Office of Science and Technology Assessment in OSHA's Directorate of Science, Technology and Medicine, developed Hazard and Abatement Summaries to help employers and workers in the maritime cargo handling industry to recognize and control the significant hazards commonly experienced in longshoring and marine terminal operations. The marine cargo handling industry representatives of the Maritime Advisory Committee for Occupational Safety and Health (MACOSH), and the National Maritime Safety Association technical committee provided input and technical guidance.

This document is comprised of guidesheets that address the most frequent sources of fatalities in the maritime cargo handling industry. Each guidesheet contains a hazard summary describing the circumstances that may have contributed to the hazards and how the specific accident could have been prevented. Each hazard summary specifically denotes the industry process, the employee's activity at the time of the incident, the hazard to which the employee was exposed and the probable cause of the fatality. Control measures for preventing similar incidents in the future are recommended. Illustrations present a visual depiction of the situation being addressed. Reference materials are included, such as the specific standards that were applicable to the incident. Other relevant standards and control measures that were not directly attributable to the fatality but which nonetheless may be useful for training on similar maritime cargo handling operations are also included. These suggested control measures are recommendations and may not reflect OSHA requirements.

The guidesheets reflect 42 actual OSHA case file summaries of workplace incidents in which longshoring workers were killed while performing their jobs. The guidesheets are divided into three major categories: vehicular accidents, falls/drowning, and material handling accidents. The most frequent cause of longshoring fatalities were accidents in which employees were struck by or run over by vehicles such as trucks, front-end loaders, or forklifts. The next most frequent causes of death were by falling or drowning. The remaining fatalities occurred while employees were performing a variety of cargo and material handling activities involving improperly loaded fork lifts, unstable cargo that toppled over, and working below improperly secured loads that fell from cranes.

We believe these guidesheets can help employers better evaluate their respective operations and take the necessary action to make their workplaces safer. Also, these guidesheets are intended to increase the safety and health awareness of workers and provide them additional insight regarding accident avoidance.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration's (OSHA) Directorate of Technical Support and Emergency Management developed guidesheets to provide information on fatal occupational hazards, and preventive actions that could be taken to make the workplace safer. This document is not a standard or regulation, and it creates no independent legal obligation. It is advisory in nature, informational in content, and is intended to assist employers in providing a safe and healthful workplace.

Further information about this bulletin may be obtained by contacting OSHA's Directorate of Technical Support and Emergency Management at (202) 693-2300.

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