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  [Federal Register Volume 80, Number 161 (Thursday, August 20, 2015)]  [Notices]
  [Pages 50652-50662]
  From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
  [FR Doc No: 2015-20571]


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  DEPARTMENT OF LABOR

  Occupational Safety and Health Administration

  [Docket No. OSHA-2014-0011]


  Impregilo Healy Parsons Joint Venture; Grant of a Permanent
  Variance

  AGENCY: Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), Labor.

  ACTION: Notice.

  -----------------------------------------------------------------------

  SUMMARY: In this notice, OSHA grants a permanent variance to Impregilo
  Healy Parsons Joint Venture from the provisions of OSHA standards that
  regulate work in compressed-air environments at 29 CFR 1926.803.

  DATES: The permanent variance specified by this notice becomes
  effective on August 20, 2015, and shall remain in effect until the
  completion of the Anacostia River Tunnel Project, but no later than
  December 31, 2016.

  FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Information regarding this notice is
  available from the following sources:
      Press inquiries: Contact Mr. Frank Meilinger, Director, OSHA Office
  of Communications, U.S. Department of Labor, 200 Constitution Avenue
  NW., Room N-3647, Washington, DC 20210; telephone: (202) 693-1999;
  email: Meilinger.francis2@dol.gov.
      General and technical information: Contact Mr. Kevin Robinson,
  Director, Office of Technical Programs and Coordination Activities,
  Directorate of Technical Support and Emergency Management, Occupational
  Safety and Health Administration, U.S. Department of Labor, 200
  Constitution Avenue NW., Room N-3655, Washington, DC 20210; phone:
  (202) 693-2110 or email: robinson.kevin@dol.gov.

  SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Copies of this Federal Register notice.
  Electronic copies of this Federal Register notice are available at
  http://www.regulations.gov. This Federal Register notice and other
  relevant information are also available at OSHA's Web page at http://www.osha.gov.

  I. Notice of Application

      On April 3, 2014, Impregilo Healy Parsons Joint Venture, ("IHP
  JV" or "the applicant"), 2600 Independence Avenue SE., Washington,
  DC 20003, submitted an application for a permanent variance and interim
  order under Section 6(d) of the Occupational Safety and Health Act of
  1970 ("OSH Act"; 29 U.S.C. 655) and 29 CFR 1905.11 ("Variances and
  other relief under section 6(d)") from several provisions of the OSHA
  standard that regulates work in compressed air at 29 CFR 1926.803. IHP
  JV also requested an interim order pending OSHA's decision on the
  application for a variance (Exhibit OSHA-2014-0011-0001, Request for
  Variance). Specifically, the applicant seeks a variance from the
  provisions of the standard that: (1) Prohibit compressed-air worker
  exposure to pressures exceeding 50 pounds per square inch (p.s.i.)
  except in an emergency (29 CFR 1926.803(e)(5)); \1\ (2) require the use
  of the decompression values specified in decompression tables in
  Appendix A of the compressed-air standard for construction (29 CFR
  1926.803(f)(1)); and (3) require the use of automated operational
  controls and a special decompression chamber (29 CFR
  1926.803(g)(1)(iii) and .803(g)(1)(xvii), respectively).
  ---------------------------------------------------------------------------

      \1\ The decompression tables in Appendix A of subpart S express
  the maximum working pressures as pounds per square inch gauge
  (p.s.i.g.), with a maximum working pressure of 50 p.s.i.g.
  Therefore, throughout this notice, OSHA expresses the 50 p.s.i.
  value specified by Sec.  1926.803(e)(5) as 50 p.s.i.g., consistent
  with the terminology in Appendix A, Table 1 of subpart S.
  ---------------------------------------------------------------------------

      According to its application, IHP JV is currently the general
  contractor for the District of Columbia Water and Sewer Authority's
  ("DC Water") project to construct the Anacostia River Tunnel. The
  Anacostia River Tunnel project design requires the ability to safely
  perform hyperbaric interventions in compressed air at pressures higher
  than allowed in the existing OSHA standard 29 CFR 1926.803(e)(5) which
  states: "No employee shall be subjected to pressure exceeding 50
  p.s.i.g. except in emergency" (see footnote 1).
      The applicant is a contractor that works on complex tunnel projects
  using recently developed equipment and procedures for soft-ground
  tunneling. The applicant's workers engage in the construction of
  subaqueous tunnels below the water table through soft soils consisting
  of clay, silt, and sand using advanced shielded mechanical excavation
  techniques in conjunction with an Earth Pressure Balanced Tunnel Boring
  Machine (EPBTBM).
      IHP JV employs specially trained personnel for the construction of
  the tunnel, and states that this construction project uses shielded
  mechanical-excavation techniques. IHP JV asserts that its workers
  perform hyperbaric interventions at pressures greater than 50 p.s.i.g.
  in the excavation chamber of the EPBTBM. The hyperbaric interventions
  consist of conducting inspections and maintenance work on the cutter-
  head structure and cutting tools of the EPBTBM.
      OSHA considered IHP JV's application for a permanent variance and
  interim order. On February 11, 2015, OSHA published a preliminary
  Federal Register notice announcing IHP JV's application for a permanent
  variance and interim order, grant of an interim order, and request for
  comments (80 FR 7636) for the Anacostia River Tunnel project.

  II. The Variance Application

  A. Background

      IHP JV asserts that innovations in tunnel excavation, specifically
  with EPBTBMs, have, in most cases, eliminated the need to pressurize
  the entire tunnel. These advances in technology modified substantially
  the methods used by the construction industry to excavate subaqueous
  tunnels compared to the caisson work regulated by the current OSHA
  compressed-air standard for construction at 29 CFR 1926.803. Such
  advances reduce the number of workers exposed, and the total duration
  of exposure, to hyperbaric pressure during tunnel construction.
      Using shielded mechanical-excavation techniques, in conjunction
  with precast concrete tunnel liners and backfill grout, EPBTBMs provide
  methods to achieve the face pressures required to maintain a stabilized
  tunnel face through various geologies, and isolate that pressure to the
  forward section (the working chamber) of the EPBTBM. Interventions in
  the working chamber take place only after halting tunnel excavation and
  preparing the machine and crew for an intervention. Interventions occur
  to inspect or maintain the mechanical-excavation components located in
  the working chamber. Maintenance conducted in the working chamber
  includes changing replaceable cutting tools and disposable wear bars,
  and, in rare cases, repairing structural damage to the cutter head.
      In addition to innovations in tunnel-excavation methods, research
  conducted after OSHA published its compressed-air standard for
  construction in 1971, resulted in advances in hyperbaric medicine. In
  this regard, the applicant asserts that the use of decompression
  protocols incorporating oxygen is more efficient, effective, and safer
  for tunnel workers than compliance with the existing OSHA standard (29
  CFR 1926, subpart S, Appendix A decompression tables). According to the
  applicant, contractors routinely and safely expose employees performing
  interventions in the working chamber of EPBTBMs to hyperbaric pressures
  up to 75 p.s.i.g., which is 50% higher than maximum pressure specified
  by the existing OSHA standard (see 29 CFR 1926.803(e)(5)). The
  applicant asserts that these hyperbaric exposures are possible because
  of advances in hyperbaric technology, a better understanding of
  hyperbaric medicine, and the development of a project-specific HOM
  (Hyperbaric Operations Manual) that requires specialized medical
  support and hyperbaric supervision to provide assistance to a team of
  specially trained man-lock attendants and hyperbaric workers.
      The applicant contends that the alternative safety measures
  included in its application provide its workers with a place of
  employment that is at least as safe and healthful as they would obtain
  under the existing provisions of OSHA's compressed-air standard for
  construction. The applicant certifies that it provided employee
  representatives of affected workers with a copy of the variance
  application.\2\ The applicant also certifies that it notified its
  workers of the variance application by posting, at prominent locations
  where it normally posts workplace notices, a summary of the application
  and information specifying where the workers can examine a copy of the
  application. In addition, the applicant informed its workers and their
  representatives of their rights to petition the Assistant Secretary of
  Labor for Occupational Safety and Health for a hearing on the variance
  application.
  ---------------------------------------------------------------------------

      \2\ See the definition of "Affected employee or worker" in
  section VI. D.
  ---------------------------------------------------------------------------

  B. Variance From Paragraph (e)(5) of 29 CFR 1926.803, Prohibition of
  Exposure to Pressure Greater Than 50 p.s.i.g. (See Footnote 1)

      The applicant states that it may perform hyperbaric interventions
  at pressures greater than 50 p.s.i.g. in the working chamber of the
  EPBTBM; this pressure exceeds the pressure limit of 50 p.s.i.g.
  specified for nonemergency purposes by 29 CFR 1926.803(e)(5). The
  EPBTBM has twin man locks, with each man lock having two compartments.
  This configuration allows workers to access the man locks for
  compression and decompression, and medical personnel to access the man
  locks if required in an emergency.
      EPBTBMs are capable of maintaining pressure at the tunnel face, and
  stabilizing existing geological conditions, through the controlled use
  of propel cylinders, a mechanically driven cutter head, bulkheads
  within the shield, ground-treatment foam, and a screw conveyor that
  moves excavated material from the working chamber. As noted earlier,
  the forward-most portion of the EPBTBM is the working chamber, and this
  chamber is the only pressurized segment of the EPBTBM. Within the
  shield, the working chamber consists of two sections: The staging
  chamber and the forward working chamber. The staging chamber is the
  section of the working chamber between the man-lock door and the entry
  door to the forward working chamber. The forward working chamber is
  immediately behind the cutter head and tunnel face.
      The applicant will pressurize the working chamber to the level
  required to maintain a stable tunnel face. Pressure in the staging
  chamber ranges from atmospheric (no increased pressure), to a maximum
  pressure equal to the pressure in the working chamber. The applicant
  asserts that most of the hyperbaric interventions will be at or near
  atmospheric pressure. However, the applicant maintains that they may
  have to perform interventions at pressures up to 52 p.s.i.g.
      During interventions, workers enter the working chamber through one
  of the twin man locks that open into the staging chamber. To reach the
  forward part of the working chamber, workers pass through a door in a
  bulkhead that separates the staging chamber from the forward working
  chamber. The maximum crew size allowed in the forward working chamber
  is three. At certain hyperbaric pressures (i.e., when decompression
  times are greater than work times), the twin man locks allow for crew
  rotation. During crew rotation, one crew can be compressing or
  decompressing while the second crew is working. Therefore, the working
  crew always has an unoccupied man lock at its disposal.
      The applicant developed a project-specific HOM for the Anacostia
  River Tunnel project (Exhibit OSHA-2014-0011-0003, IHP JV Project-
  Specific HOM) that describes in detail the hyperbaric procedures and
  required medical examinations used during the tunnel-construction
  project. The HOM is project-specific, and discusses standard operating
  procedures and emergency and contingency procedures. The procedures
  include using experienced and knowledgeable man-lock attendants who
  have the training and experience necessary to recognize and treat
  decompression illnesses and injuries. The attendants are under the
  direct supervision of the hyperbaric supervisor and attending
  physician. In addition, procedures include medical screening and review
  of prospective compressed-air workers (CAWs). The purpose of this
  screening procedure is to vet prospective CAWs with medical conditions
  (e.g., deep vein thrombosis, poor vascular circulation, and muscle
  cramping) that could be aggravated by sitting in a cramped space (e.g.,
  a man lock) for extended periods or by exposure to elevated pressures
  and compressed gas mixtures. A transportable recompression chamber
  (shuttle) is available to extract workers from the hyperbaric working
  chamber for emergency evacuation and medical treatment; the shuttle
  attaches to the topside medical lock, which is a large recompression
  chamber. The applicant believes that the procedures included in the HOM
  provide safe work conditions when interventions are necessary,
  including interventions above 50 p.s.i.g.

  C. Variance From Paragraph (f)(1) of 29 CFR 1926.803, Requirement To
  Use OSHA Decompression Tables

      OSHA's compressed-air standard for construction requires
  decompression in accordance with the decompression tables in Appendix A
  of 29 CFR part 1926, subpart S (see 29 CFR 1926.803(f)(1)). As an
  alternative to the OSHA decompression tables, the applicant proposes to
  use newer decompression schedules that supplement breathing air used
  during decompression with pure oxygen. The applicant asserts that these
  decompression protocols are safer for tunnel workers than the
  decompression protocols specified in Appendix A of 29 CFR part 1926,
  subpart S. Accordingly, the applicant proposes to use the 1992 French
  Decompression Tables to decompress CAWs after they exit the hyperbaric
  conditions in the working chamber.
      Depending on the maximum working pressure and exposure times, the
  1992 French Decompression Tables provide for air decompression with or
  without oxygen. IHP JV asserts that oxygen decompression has many
  benefits, including (1) keeping the partial pressure of nitrogen in the
  lungs as low as possible; (2) keeping external pressure as low as
  possible to reduce the formation of bubbles in the blood; (3) removing
  nitrogen from the lungs and arterial blood and increasing the rate of
  elimination of nitrogen; (4) improving the quality of breathing during
  decompression stops so that workers are less tired and to prevent bone
  necrosis; (5) reducing decompression time by about 33 percent as
  compared to air decompression; and (6) reducing inflammation.
      In addition, the HOM requires a physician certified in hyperbaric
  medicine to manage the medical condition of CAWs during hyperbaric
  exposures and decompression. A trained and experienced man-lock
  attendant also will be present during hyperbaric exposures and
  decompression. This man-lock attendant will operate the hyperbaric
  system to ensure compliance with the specified decompression table. A
  hyperbaric supervisor (competent person), trained in hyperbaric
  operations, procedures, and safety, will directly oversee all
  hyperbaric interventions, and ensure that staff follow the procedures
  delineated in the HOM or by the attending physician.
      The applicant asserts that at higher hyperbaric pressures,
  decompression times exceed 75 minutes. The HOM establishes protocols
  and procedures that provide the basis for alternate means of protection
  for CAWs under these conditions. Accordingly, based on these protocols
  and procedures, the applicant requests to use the 1992 French
  Decompression Tables for hyperbaric interventions up to 52 p.s.i.g. for
  the Anacostia River Tunnel project. The applicant is committed to
  follow the decompression procedures described in the project-specific
  HOM during these interventions.

  D. Variance From Paragraph (g)(1)(iii) of 29 CFR 1926.803,
  Automatically Regulated Continuous Decompression

      According to the applicant, breathing air under hyperbaric
  conditions increases the amount of nitrogen gas dissolved in a CAW's
  tissues. The greater the hyperbaric pressure under these conditions,
  and the more time spent under the increased pressure, the greater the
  amount of nitrogen gas dissolved in the tissues. When the pressure
  decreases during decompression, tissues release the dissolved nitrogen
  gas into the blood system, which then carries the nitrogen gas to the
  lungs for elimination through exhalation. Releasing hyperbaric pressure
  too rapidly during decompression can increase the size of the bubbles
  formed by nitrogen gas in the blood system, resulting in DCI, commonly
  referred to as "the bends." This description of the etiology of DCI
  is consistent with current scientific theory and research on the issue
  (see footnote 12 in this notice discussing a 1985 NIOSH report on DCI).
      The 1992 French Decompression Tables proposed for use by the
  applicant provide for stops during worker decompression (i.e., staged
  decompression) to control the release of nitrogen gas from tissues into
  the blood system. Studies show that staged decompression, in
  combination with other features of the 1992 French Decompression Tables
  such as the use of oxygen, result in a lower incidence of DCI than the
  OSHA decompression requirements of 29 CFR 1926.803, which specify the
  use of automatically regulated continuous decompression (see footnotes
  10 through 14 in this notice for references to these studies).\3\ In
  addition, the applicant asserts that staged decompression is at least
  as effective as an automatic controller in regulating the decompression
  process because:
  ---------------------------------------------------------------------------

      \3\ In the study cited in footnote 10 of this notice, starting
  at page 338, Dr. Eric Kindwall notes that the use of automatically
  regulated continuous decompression in the Washington State safety
  standards for compressed-air work (from which OSHA derived its
  decompression tables) was at the insistence of contractors and the
  union, and against the advice of the expert who calculated the
  decompression table and recommended using staged decompression. Dr.
  Kindwall then states, "Continuous decompression is inefficient and
  wasteful. For example, if the last stage from 4 p.s.i.g.... to
  the surface took 1 h, at least half the time is spent at pressures
  less than 2 p.s.i.g...., which provides less and less meaningful
  bubble suppression...." In addition, the report referenced in
  footnote 5 under the section titled, "Background on the Need for
  Interim Decompression Tables" addresses the continuous-
  decompression protocol in the OSHA compressed-air standard for
  construction, noting that "[a]side from the tables for saturation
  diving to deep depths, no other widely used or officially approved
  diving decompression tables use straight line, continuous
  decompressions at varying rates. Stage decompression is usually the
  rule, since it is simpler to control."
  ---------------------------------------------------------------------------

      1. A hyperbaric supervisor (a competent person experienced and
  trained in hyperbaric operations, procedures, and safety) directly
  supervises all hyperbaric interventions and ensures that the man-lock
  attendant, who is a competent person in the manual control of
  hyperbaric systems, follows the schedule specified in the decompression
  tables, including stops; and
      2. The use of the 1992 French Decompression Tables for staged
  decompression offers an equal or better level of management and control
  over the decompression process than an automatic controller and results
  in lower occurrences of DCI.
      Accordingly, the applicant is applying for a permanent variance
  from the OSHA standard at 29 CFR 1926.803(g)(1)(iii), which requires
  automatic controls to regulate decompression. As noted above, the
  applicant is committed to conduct the staged decompression according to
  the 1992 French Decompression Tables under the direct control of the
  trained man-lock attendant and under the oversight of the hyperbaric
  supervisor.

  E. Variance From Paragraph (g)(1)(xvii) of 29 CFR 1926.803, Requirement
  of Special Decompression Chamber

      The OSHA compressed-air standard for construction requires
  employers to use a special decompression chamber when total
  decompression time exceeds 75 minutes (see 29 CFR
  1926.803(g)(1)(xvii)). Use of the special decompression chamber enables
  CAWs to move about and flex their joints to prevent neuromuscular
  problems during decompression.
      As an alternative to using a special decompression chamber, the
  applicant notes that since only the working chamber of the EPBTBM is
  under pressure, and only a few workers out of the entire crew are
  exposed to hyperbaric pressure, the man locks (which, as noted earlier,
  connect directly to the working chamber) and the staging chamber are of
  sufficient size to accommodate the exposed workers. In addition,
  available space in the EPBTBM does not allow for an additional special
  decompression lock. Again, the applicant uses the man locks, each of
  which adequately accommodates a three-member crew, for this purpose
  when decompression lasts up to 75 minutes. When decompression exceeds
  75 minutes, crews can open the door connecting the two compartments in
  each man lock during decompression stops or exit the man lock and move
  into the staging chamber where additional space is available. This
  alternative enables CAWs to move about and flex their joints to prevent
  neuromuscular problems during decompression.

  F. Previous Tunnel Construction Variances

      OSHA notes that on May 23, 2014, it granted a sub-aqueous tunnel
  construction permanent variance to Tully/OHL USA Joint Venture (79 FR
  29809) from the same provisions of the standard that regulate work in
  compressed air (at 29 CFR 1926.803(e)(5), (f)(1), (g)(1)(iii), and
  (g)(1)(xvii)) that are the subject of the present application. On March
  27, 2015, OSHA also granted another sub-aqueous tunnel construction
  permanent variance to Traylor/Skanska/Jay Dee Joint Venture (80 FR
  16440) from the same provisions of the standard that are the subject of
  the present application. Generally, the alternate conditions in this
  notice are based on and very similar to the alternate conditions of the
  previous permanent variances.

  G. Multi-State Variance

      As stated earlier in this notice, IHP JV applied for a permanent
  variance and interim order for its Anacostia River Tunnel project only.
  The Anacostia River Tunnel project is located entirely in the District
  of Columbia and thus under Federal OSHA's exclusive jurisdiction.
  Therefore, any variance OSHA grants IHP JV will have effect only in the
  District of Columbia.
      Twenty-eight state safety and health plans have been approved by
  OSHA under section 18 of the (OSH) Act.\4\ As part of the permanent
  variance process, the Directorate of Cooperative and State Programs
  will notify the State Plans of IHP JV's variance application and grant
  of the Anacostia River Tunnel project permanent variance.
  ---------------------------------------------------------------------------

      \4\ Six State Plans (Connecticut, Illinois, New Jersey, New
  York, Maine and the Virgin Islands) limit their occupational safety
  and health authority to state and local government employers only.
  State Plans that exercise their occupational safety and health
  authority over both public- and private-sector employers are:
  Alaska, Arizona, California, Hawaii, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky,
  Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New Mexico, North Carolina,
  Oregon, Puerto Rico, South Carolina, Tennessee, Utah, Vermont,
  Virginia, Washington, and Wyoming.
  ---------------------------------------------------------------------------

      Additionally, in considering IHP JV's application for a permanent
  variance and interim order, OSHA noted that four State Plans have
  previously granted sub-aqueous tunnel construction variances and
  imposed different or additional requirements and conditions
  (California, Nevada, Oregon, and Washington). California also
  promulgated new standards \5\ for similar sub-aqueous tunnel
  construction work.
  ---------------------------------------------------------------------------

      \5\ See California Code of Regulations, Title 8, Subchapter 7,
  Group 26, Article 154, available at http://www.dir.ca.gov/title8/sb7g26a154.html.
  ---------------------------------------------------------------------------

  III. Description of the Conditions Specified for the Permanent Variance

      This section describes the alternative means of compliance with 29
  CFR 1926.803(e)(5), (f)(1), (g)(1)(iii), and (g)(1)(xvii) and provides
  additional detail regarding the conditions that form the basis of IHP
  JV's permanent variance.

  Condition A: Scope

      The scope of the permanent variance limits coverage to the work
  situations specified under this condition. Clearly defining the scope
  of the permanent variance provides IHP JV, IHP JV's employees, other
  stakeholders, the public, and OSHA with necessary information regarding
  the work situations in which the permanent variance applies.
      According to 29 CFR 1905.11, an employer (or class or group of
  employers \6\) may request a permanent variance for a specific
  workplace or workplaces (multiple sites). If granted, the variance
  applies to the specific employer(s) that submitted the application. In
  this instance, the permanent variance applies to the applicant, IHP JV,
  for its Anacostia River Tunnel project, and does not apply to any other
  employers.
  ---------------------------------------------------------------------------

      \6\ A class or group of employers (such as members of a trade
  alliance or association) may apply jointly for a variance provided
  an authorized representative for each employer signs the application
  and the application identifies each employer's affected facilities.
  ---------------------------------------------------------------------------

  Condition B: Application

      This condition specifies the circumstances under which the
  permanent variance is in effect, notably only for hyperbaric work
  performed during interventions. The condition places clear limits on
  the circumstances under which the applicant can expose its employees to
  hyperbaric pressure.

  Condition C: List of Abbreviations

      This condition defines a number of abbreviations used in the
  permanent variance. OSHA believes that defining these abbreviations
  serves to clarify and standardize their usage, thereby enhancing the
  applicant's and its employees' understanding of the conditions
  specified by the permanent variance.

  Condition D: Definitions

      The condition defines a series of terms, mostly technical terms,
  used in the permanent variance to standardize and clarify their
  meaning. Defining these terms serves to enhance the applicant's and its
  employees' understanding of the conditions specified by the permanent
  variance.

  Condition E: Safety and Health Practices

      This condition requires the applicant to develop and submit to OSHA
  an HOM specific to the Anacostia River Tunnel project at least six
  months before using the EPBTBM for tunneling operations. Additionally,
  the condition includes a series of related hazard prevention and
  control requirements and methods (e.g., decompression tables, job
  hazard analysis (JHA), operations and inspections checklists, incident
  investigation, recording and notification to OSHA of recordable
  hyperbaric injuries and illnesses, etc.) designed to ensure the
  continued effective functioning of the hyperbaric equipment and
  operating system.
      Review of the HOM enables OSHA to: (1) Determine that the safety
  and health instructions and measures it specifies are appropriate and
  do adequately protect the safety and health of the CAWs and that it
  conforms to the conditions of the variance; and (2) request the
  applicant to revise or modify the HOM if it finds that the hyperbaric
  safety and health procedures are not suitable for the specific project
  and do not adequately protect the safety and health of the CAWs. Once
  approved, the project-specific HOM becomes part of the variance, thus
  enabling OSHA to enforce its safety and health procedures and
  measures.\7\
  ---------------------------------------------------------------------------

      \7\ Publication of the preliminary Federal Register notice (80
  FR 7636) announcing IHP JV's application for a permanent variance
  and grant of a project-specific interim order constituted
  acknowledgement by OSHA of the acceptability of the HOM provided by
  IHP JV for the Anacostia River Tunnel project. Further, publication
  of this Federal Register notice announcing grant of a project-
  specific permanent variance constitutes acknowledgement by OSHA of
  the acceptability of IHP JV's revised HOM (Rev 1) (Ex. OSHA-2014-
  0011-0009).
  ---------------------------------------------------------------------------

  Condition F: Communication

      This condition requires the applicant to develop and implement an
  effective system of information sharing and communication. Effective
  information sharing and communication ensures that affected workers
  receive updated information regarding any safety-related hazards and
  incidents, and corrective actions taken, prior to the start of each
  shift. The condition also requires the applicant to ensure that
  reliable means of emergency communications are available and maintained
  for affected workers and support personnel during hyperbaric operations.
  Availability of such reliable means of communication enable affected
  workers and support personnel to respond quickly and effectively to
  hazardous conditions or emergencies that may develop during EPBTBM
  operations.

  Condition G: Worker Qualification and Training

      This condition requires the applicant to develop and implement an
  effective qualification and training program for affected workers. The
  condition specifies the factors that an affected worker must know to
  perform safely during hyperbaric operations, including how to enter,
  work in, and exit from hyperbaric conditions under both normal and
  emergency conditions. Having well-trained and qualified workers
  performing hyperbaric intervention work ensures that they recognize,
  and respond appropriately to, hyperbaric safety and health hazards.
  These qualification and training requirements enable affected workers
  to cope effectively with emergencies, as well as the discomfort and
  physiological effects of hyperbaric exposure, thereby preventing
  injury, illness, and fatalities among workers.
      As part of the qualification and training program, paragraph
  (G)(2)(e) of this condition also requires the applicant to provide
  affected workers with information they can use to contact the
  appropriate healthcare professionals if they believe that they are
  developing hyperbaric-related health effects. This requirement provides
  for early intervention and treatment of DCI and other health effects
  resulting from hyperbaric exposure, thereby reducing the potential
  severity of these effects.

  Condition H: Inspections, Tests, and Accident Prevention

      This condition requires the applicant to develop, implement, and
  operate a program of frequent and regular inspections of the EPBTBM's
  hyperbaric equipment and support systems, and associated work areas.
  This condition helps to ensure the safe operation and physical
  integrity of the equipment and work areas necessary to conduct
  hyperbaric operations. The condition also enhances worker safety by
  reducing the risk of hyperbaric-related emergencies.
      Paragraph (H)(3) of this condition requires the applicant to
  document tests, inspections, corrective actions, and repairs involving
  the EPBTBM, and maintain these documents at the job site for the
  duration of the job. This requirement provides the applicant with
  information needed to schedule tests and inspections to ensure the
  continued safe operation of the equipment and systems, and to determine
  that the actions taken to correct defects in hyperbaric equipment and
  systems were appropriate, prior to returning them to service.

  Condition I: Compression and Decompression

      This condition requires the applicant to consult with its
  designated medical advisor regarding special compression or
  decompression procedures appropriate for any unacclimated CAW. This
  provision ensures that the applicant consults with the medical advisor,
  and involves the medical advisor in the evaluation, development, and
  implementation of compression or decompression protocols appropriate
  for any CAW requiring acclimation to the hyperbaric conditions
  encountered during EPBTBM operations. Accordingly, CAWs requiring
  acclimation have an opportunity to acclimate prior to exposure to these
  hyperbaric conditions. OSHA believes this condition will prevent or
  reduce adverse reactions among CAWs to the effects of compression or
  decompression associated with the intervention work they perform in the
  EPBTBM.

  Condition J: Recordkeeping

      This condition requires the applicant to maintain records of
  specific factors associated with each hyperbaric intervention. The
  information gathered and recorded under this provision, in concert with
  the information provided under Condition K (using OSHA 301 Incident
  Report form to investigate and record hyperbaric recordable injuries as
  defined by 29 CFR 1904.4, 1904.7, 1904.8 through 1904.12), enables the
  applicant and OSHA to determine the effectiveness of the permanent
  variance in preventing decompression illness (DCI) and other
  hyperbaric-related effects.\8\
  ---------------------------------------------------------------------------

  \8\ See 29 CFR 1904 Recording and Reporting Occupational
  Injuries and Illnesses
  (http://www.osha.gov/pls/oshaweb/owadisp.show_document?p_table=STANDARDS&p_id=9631);
  recordkeeping forms and instructions
  (http://www.osha.gov/recordkeeping/RKform300pkg-fillable-enabled.pdf);
  OSHA Recordkeeping Handbook
  (http://www.osha.gov/recordkeeping/handbook/index.html);
  and updates to OSHA's recordkeeping rule Web page
  ((79 FR 56130); http://www.osha.gov/recordkeeping2014/index.html)).
  ---------------------------------------------------------------------------

  Condition K: Notifications

      Under this condition, the applicant must, within specified periods:
  (1) Notify OSHA of any recordable injuries, illnesses, in-patient
  hospitalizations, amputations, loss of an eye, or fatality that occur
  as a result of hyperbaric exposures during EPBTBM operations; (2)
  provide OSHA with a copy of the incident investigation report (using
  OSHA 301 form) of these events; (3) include on the 301 form information
  on the hyperbaric conditions associated with the recordable injury or
  illness, the root-cause determination, and preventive and corrective
  actions identified and implemented by the applicant; and (4) its
  certification that it informed affected workers of the incident and the
  results of the incident investigation.
      This condition also requires the applicant to: Notify the Office of
  Technical Programs and Coordination Activities (OTPCA) and the
  Baltimore/Washington DC Area Office within 15 working days should the
  applicant need to revise its HOM to accommodate changes in its
  compressed-air operations that affect its ability to comply with the
  conditions of the permanent variance; and provide OSHA's OTPCA and the
  Baltimore/Washington DC Area Office, at the end of the project, with a
  report evaluating the effectiveness of the decompression tables.
      These notification requirements enable the applicant, its
  employees, and OSHA to determine the effectiveness of the permanent
  variance in providing the requisite level of safety to the applicant's
  workers and, based on this determination, whether to revise or revoke
  the conditions of the permanent variance. Timely notification permits
  OSHA to take whatever action may be necessary and appropriate to
  prevent further injuries and illnesses. Providing notification to
  employees informs them of the precautions taken by the applicant to
  prevent similar incidents in the future.
      This condition also requires the applicant to notify OSHA if it
  ceases to do business, has a new address or location for its main
  office, or transfers the operations covered by the permanent variance
  to a successor company. In addition, the condition specifies that OSHA
  must approve the transfer of the permanent variance to a successor
  company. These requirements allow OSHA to communicate effectively with
  the applicant regarding the status of the permanent variance, and
  expedite the Agency's administration and enforcement of the permanent
  variance. Stipulating that an applicant must have OSHA's approval to
  transfer a variance to a successor company provides assurance that the
  successor company has knowledge of, and will comply with, the
  conditions specified by the permanent variance, thereby ensuring the
  safety of workers involved in performing the operations covered by the
  permanent variance.

  IV. Comments on the Proposed Variance Application

      OSHA received one public comment on the proposed variance
  application. Mr. Barry Cole (safety specialist) representing Cole-
  Preferred Safety Consulting, Inc., supported granting the permanent
  variance (Exhibit OSHA-2014-0011-0008). In his comment, Mr. Cole made
  two suggestions. First, he proposed that OSHA should allow the
  applicant substantially more room to work beyond the anticipated
  hyperbaric pressure of 52 p.s.i.g., by changing the upper hyperbaric
  pressure limit of the variance from 52 p.s.i.g. to "the level
  necessary to maintain safety on the face, and/up to the design/rating
  limits of the machinery described." Second, he recommended that OSHA
  should issue a letter of interpretation (LOI) that allows all tunnel
  construction companies working under hyperbaric conditions "to be
  allowed to use the stepped method of depressurization, as per
  engineering/medical data and schedules (such as but not limited to the
  French scale), as it is the best/safest practice, and the original
  standard should have included it, even if the preference was for some
  reason to use auto/straight line [decompression]. Either may be
  allowed, under my proposed letter of interpretation."
      The remainder of this section describes OSHA's response to Mr.
  Cole's comments.
      First, OSHA finds that the recommendation to increase the upper
  hyperbaric pressure limit of the variance from 52 p.s.i.g. to the level
  necessary to maintain safety at the face of the EPBTBM (up to 75
  p.s.i.g.), is well beyond the scope of the requested variance.
  Therefore, OSHA will not modify the permanent variance.
      Initially, IHP JV sought a permanent variance for work in
  hyperbaric environments up to 50 p.s.i.g., as indicated in its
  Anacostia River Tunnel project-specific HOM. The HOM stated that in the
  unlikely event that working pressures exceeding the anticipated maximum
  of 50 p.s.i.g. are required during interventions, an amendment will be
  prepared and added to the HOM. Following discussions with the
  applicant, and in response to the applicant's request, OSHA is granting
  an increase in the upper hyperbaric pressure limit of the variance from
  50 p.s.i.g. to 52 p.s.i.g. This increase will: (1) Provide greater
  flexibility and timeliness for responding to unanticipated conditions
  such as the need for increased face pressure (exceeding 50 p.s.i.g.) in
  the excavation chamber of the EPBTBM during interventions; and (2)
  maintain consistency with the upper hyperbaric pressure limit of 52
  p.s.i.g. included in the variance OSHA granted to Traylor Skanska Jay
  Dee Joint Venture (80 FR 16440) for completing the Blue Plains Tunnel,
  another phase of the District of Columbia Water and Sewer Authority's
  ("DC Water") Clean Rivers project. Subsequently, IHP JV submitted a
  revised Anacostia River Tunnel project-specific HOM (Rev. 1; see Ex.
  OSHA-2014-0011-0009) for work in hyperbaric environments up to 52
  p.s.i.g.
      Second, OSHA finds that the recommendation to publish a LOI on
  stepped decompression using the French or other tables is well beyond
  the scope of this variance. Therefore, OSHA will not undertake issuing
  an LOI that allows tunnel construction companies working under
  hyperbaric conditions to operate under the conditions of previously
  granted variances. Moreover, the grant of this variance is conditioned
  on OSHA's approval of the applicant's HOM, and such a procedure would
  not be possible under a LOI.
      Further, broader, industry-wide issues such as the setting of
  hyperbaric exposure and decompression limits for all tunneling work
  would be more appropriately resolved through the rulemaking process. In
  recognition of this, on December 6, 2012, OSHA published a Federal
  Register notice (77 FR 72781) announcing a request for information
  (RFI) for its continuing regulatory reviews named standards improvement
  projects (SIPs). The Agency is currently working on SIP-Phase IV (SIP-
  IV). As part of SIP-IV, OSHA is considering updating the decompression
  tables in Appendix A (1926.803 (f)(1)). This proposed action would
  permit employers to use decompression procedures and updated
  decompression tables that take advantage of new hyperbaric technologies
  used widely in extreme hyperbaric exposures. If the planned SIP-IV
  revises Appendix A, IHP JV (and similar tunneling contractors
  previously granted a variance) will no longer need to obtain a variance
  from the use of decompression values specified in decompression tables
  in Appendix A of the compressed-air standard for construction (29 CFR
  1926.803(f)(1)). However, they would still require hyperbaric tunneling
  variances to address portions of the standard not proposed to be
  covered by SIP-IV (i.e., 29 CFR 1926.803(e)(5); .803(g)(1)(iii) and
  .803(g)(1)(xvii)).
      If SIP-IV is completed (including the planned update of the
  decompression tables in Appendix A (1926.803 (f)(1)), OSHA will modify
  IHP JV's and similar variances granted to other employers to include
  the applicable SIP-IV provisions as appropriate.

  V. Decision

      As noted earlier, on February 11, 2015, OSHA published a
  preliminary Federal Register notice announcing IHP JV's application for
  a permanent variance and interim order, grant of an interim order, and
  request for comments (80 FR 7636).
      During the period starting with the February 11, 2015, publication
  of the preliminary Federal Register notice announcing grant of the
  interim order, until completion of the Anacostia River Tunnel or the
  Agency modifies or revokes the interim order or makes a decision on its
  application for a permanent variance, the applicant was required to
  comply fully with the conditions of the interim order as an alternative
  to complying with the requirements of 29 CFR 1926.803 (hereafter, "the
  standard") that:
      A. Prohibit employers using compressed air under hyperbaric
  conditions from subjecting workers to pressure exceeding 50 p.s.i.g.,
  except in emergency (29 CFR 1926.803(e)(5));
      B. Require the use of decompression values specified by the
  decompression tables in Appendix A of the compressed-air standard (29
  CFR 1926.803(f)(1)); and
      C. Require the use of automated operational controls and a special
  decompression chamber (29 CFR 1926.803(g)(1)(iii) and .803(g)(1)(xvii),
  respectively).
      After reviewing the proposed alternative measures, OSHA determined
  that:
      A. IHP JV developed, and proposed to implement, effective
  alternative measures to the prohibition of using compressed air under
  hyperbaric conditions exceeding 50 p.s.i.g. The alternative measures
  include use of engineering and administrative controls of the hazards
  associated with work performed in compressed-air conditions exceeding
  50 p.s.i.g. while engaged in the construction of a subaqueous tunnel
  using advanced shielded mechanical-excavation techniques in conjunction
  with an EPBTBM. Prior to conducting interventions in the EPBTBM's
  pressurized working chamber, the applicant halts tunnel excavation and
  prepares the machine and crew to conduct the interventions.
  Interventions involve inspection, maintenance, or repair of the
  mechanical-excavation components located in the working chamber.
      B. IHP JV developed, and proposed to implement, safe hyperbaric
  work procedures, emergency and contingency procedures, and medical
  examinations for the project's CAWs. The applicant compiled these
  standard operating procedures into a project-specific HOM. The HOM
  discusses the procedures and personnel qualifications for performing
  work safely during the compression and decompression phases of
  interventions. The HOM also specifies the decompression tables the
  applicant proposes to use. Depending on the maximum working pressure
  and exposure times during the interventions, the tables provide for
  decompression using air, pure oxygen, or a combination of air and
  oxygen. The decompression tables also include delays or stops for
  various time intervals at different pressure levels during the
  transition to atmospheric pressure (i.e., staged decompression). In all
  cases, a physician certified in hyperbaric medicine will manage the
  medical condition of CAWs during decompression. In addition, a trained
  and experienced man-lock attendant, experienced in recognizing
  decompression sickness or illnesses and injuries, will be present. Of
  key importance, a hyperbaric supervisor (competent person), trained in
  hyperbaric operations, procedures, and safety, will directly supervise
  all hyperbaric operations to ensure compliance with the procedures
  delineated in the project-specific HOM or by the attending physician.
      C. IHP JV developed, and proposed to implement, a training program
  to instruct affected workers in the hazards associated with conducting
  hyperbaric operations.
      D. IHP JV developed, and proposed to implement, an effective
  alternative to the use of automatic controllers that continuously
  decrease pressure to achieve decompression in accordance with the
  tables specified by the standard. The alternative includes using the
  1992 French Decompression Tables for guiding staged decompression to
  achieve lower occurrences of DCI, using a trained and competent
  attendant for implementing appropriate hyperbaric entry and exit
  procedures, and providing a competent hyperbaric supervisor, and
  attending physician certified in hyperbaric medicine, to oversee all
  hyperbaric operations.
      E. IHP JV developed, and proposed to implement, an effective
  alternative to the use of the special decompression chamber required by
  the standard. EPBTBM technology permits the tunnel's work areas to be
  at atmospheric pressure, with only the face of the EPBTBM (i.e., the
  working chamber) at elevated pressure. The applicant limits
  interventions conducted in the working chamber to performing required
  inspection, maintenance, and repair of the cutting tools on the face of
  the EPBTBM. The EPBTBM's man lock and working chamber provide
  sufficient space for the maximum crew of three CAWs to stand up and
  move around, and safely accommodate decompression times up to 360
  minutes. Therefore, OSHA preliminarily determined that the EPBTBM's man
  lock and working chamber function as effectively as the special
  decompression chamber required by the standard.
      OSHA conducted a review of the scientific literature regarding
  decompression to determine whether the alternative decompression method
  (i.e., the 1992 French Decompression Tables) proposed by the applicant
  provide a workplace as safe and healthful as that provided by the
  standard. Based on this review, OSHA preliminarily determined that
  decompressions conducted in tunneling operations performed with tables
  \9\ result in a lower occurrence of DCI than the decompression tables
  specified by the standard.10 11 12
  ---------------------------------------------------------------------------

      \9\ In 1992, the French Ministry of Labour replaced the 1974
  French Decompression Tables with the 1992 French Decompression
  Tables, which differ from OSHA's decompression tables in Appendix A
  by using: (1) Staged decompression as opposed to continuous (linear)
  decompression; (2) decompression tables based on air or both air and
  pure oxygen; and (3) emergency tables when unexpected exposure times
  occur (up to 30 minutes above the maximum allowed working time).
      \10\ Kindwall, EP (1997). Compressed-air tunneling and caisson
  work decompression procedures: Development, problems, and solutions.
  Undersea and Hyperbaric Medicine, 24(4), pp. 337-345. This article
  reported 60 treated cases of DCI among 4,168 exposures between 19
  and 31 p.s.i.g. over a 51-week contract period, for a DCI incidence
  of 1.44% for the decompression tables specified by the OSHA
  standard.
      \11\ Sealey, JL (1969). Safe exit from the hyperbaric
  environment: Medical experience with pressurized tunnel operations.
  Journal of Occupational Medicine, 11(5), pp. 273-275. This article
  reported 210 treated cases of DCI among 38,600 hyperbaric exposures
  between 13 and 34 p.s.i.g. over a 32-month period, for an incidence
  of 0.54% for the decompression tables specified by the Washington
  State safety standards for compressed-air work, which are similar to
  the tables in the OSHA standard. Moreover, the article reported 51
  treated cases of DCI for 3,000 exposures between 30 and 34 p.s.i.g.,
  for an incidence of 1.7% for the Washington State tables.
      \12\ In 1985, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and
  Health (NIOSH) published a report entitled "Criteria for Interim
  Decompression Tables for Caisson and Tunnel Workers;" this report
  reviewed studies of DCI and other hyperbaric-related injuries
  resulting from use of OSHA's tables. This report is available on
  NIOSH's Web site: http://www.cdc.gov/niosh/topics/decompression/default.html.
  ---------------------------------------------------------------------------

      The review conducted by OSHA found several research studies
  supporting the determination that the 1992 French Decompression Tables
  result in a lower rate of DCI than the decompression tables specified
  by the standard. For example, H. L. Anderson studied the occurrence of
  DCI at maximum hyperbaric pressures ranging from 4 p.s.i.g. to 43
  p.s.i.g. during construction of the Great Belt Tunnel in Denmark (1992-
  1996); \13\ this project used the 1992 French Decompression Tables to
  decompress the workers during part of the construction. Anderson
  observed 6 DCI cases out of 7,220 decompression events, and reported
  that switching to the 1992 French Decompression tables reduced the DCI
  incidence to 0.08%. The DCI incidence in the study by H.L. Andersen is
  substantially less than the DCI incidence reported for the
  decompression tables specified in Appendix A. OSHA found no studies in
  which the DCI incidence reported for the 1992 French Decompression
  Tables were higher than the DCI incidence reported for the OSHA
  decompression tables, nor did OSHA find any studies indicating that the
  1992 French Decompression Tables were more hazardous to employees than
  the OSHA decompression tables.\14\ Therefore, OSHA concludes that use
  of the 1992 French Decompression Tables protect workers at least as
  effectively as the OSHA decompression tables.
  ---------------------------------------------------------------------------

      \13\ Anderson HL (2002). Decompression sickness during
  construction of the Great Belt tunnel, Denmark. Undersea and
  Hyperbaric Medicine, 29(3), pp. 172-188.
      \14\ Le P[eacute]chon JC, Barre P, Baud JP, Ollivier F
  (September 1996). Compressed-air work--French tables 1992--
  operational results. JCLP Hyperbarie Paris, Centre Medical
  Subaquatique Interentreprise, Marseille: Communication a l'EUBS, pp.
  1-5 (see Ex. OSHA-2014-0011-0004).
  ---------------------------------------------------------------------------

      Based on a review of available evidence, the experience of State
  Plans that either granted variances (Nevada, Oregon, and Washington)
  \15\ or promulgated a new standard (California)\16\ for hyperbaric
  exposures occurring during similar subaqueous tunnel-construction work,
  and the information provided in the applicant's variance application,
  OSHA is granting the permanent variance.
  ---------------------------------------------------------------------------

      \15\ These state variances are available in the docket: Exs.
  OSHA-2014-0011-0005 (Nevada), OSHA-2014-0011-0006 (Oregon), and
  OSHA-2014-0011-0007 (Washington).
      \16\ See California Code of Regulations, Title 8, Subchapter 7,
  Group 26, Article 154, available at http://www.dir.ca.gov/title8/sb7g26a154.html.
  ---------------------------------------------------------------------------

      Under Section 6(d) of the Occupational Safety and Health Act of
  1970 (29 U.S.C. 655(d)), and based on the record discussed above, the
  Agency finds that when the employer complies with the conditions of the
  following order, the working conditions of the employer's workers are at
  least as safe and healthful as if the employer complied with the working
  conditions specified by paragraphs (e)(5), (f)(1), (g)(1)(iii), and (g)(1)(xvii)
  of 29 CFR 1926.803. Under the terms of this variance, IHP JV must:
  (1) Comply with the conditions listed below under
  "Specific Conditions of the Permanent Variance" for the period between the
  date of this notice and completion of the Anacostia River Tunnel project,
  but no later than December 31, 2016; (2) comply fully with all other
  applicable provisions of 29 CFR part 1926; and (3) provide a copy of this
  Federal Register notice to all employees affected by the conditions,
  including the affected employees of other employers, using the same means it
  used to inform these employees of its application for a permanent variance.
  This order will remain in effect until one of the following conditions occurs:
  (1) Completion of the IHP JV Anacostia River Tunnel project but no later
  than December 31, 2016; or (2) OSHA modifies or revokes this final
  order in accordance with 29 CFR 1905.13.

  VI. Order

      As of the effective date of this final order, OSHA is revoking the
  interim order granted to the employer on February 11, 2015 (80 FR
  7636).
      OSHA issues this final order authorizing Impregilo Healy Parsons
  Joint Venture, ("IHP JV" or "the applicant"), to comply with the
  following conditions instead of complying with the requirements of
  paragraphs 29 CFR 1926.803(e)(5), (f)(1), (g)(1)(iii), and
  (g)(1)(xvii). This final order applies to Impregilo Healy Parsons Joint
  Venture at the Anacostia River Tunnel project in Washington, DC. These
  conditions are:

  A. Scope

      The permanent variance applies only to work:
      1. That occurs in conjunction with construction of the Anacostia
  River Tunnel project, a subaqueous tunnel constructed using advanced
  shielded mechanical-excavation techniques and involving operation of an
  EPBTBM;
      2. Performed under compressed-air and hyperbaric conditions up to
  52 p.s.i.g. at the Anacostia River Tunnel project;
      3. In the EPBTBM's forward section (the working chamber) and
  associated hyperbaric chambers used to pressurize and decompress
  employees entering and exiting the working chamber;
      4. Except for the requirements specified by 29 CFR 1926.803(e)(5),
  (f)(1), (g)(1)(iii), and (g)(1)(xvii), IHP JV must comply fully with
  all other applicable provisions of 29 CFR part 1926; and
      5. This order will remain in effect until one of the following
  conditions occurs: (1) Completion of the Anacostia River Tunnel
  project, but no later than December 31, 2016; or (2) OSHA modifies or
  revokes this final order in accordance with 29 CFR 1905.13.

  B. Application

      The permanent variance applies only when IHP JV stops the tunnel-
  boring work, pressurizes the working chamber, and the CAWs either enter
  the working chamber to perform interventions (i.e., inspect, maintain,
  or repair the mechanical-excavation components), or exit the working
  chamber after performing interventions.

  C. List of Abbreviations

      Abbreviations used throughout this permanent variance include the
  following:

  1. CAW--Compressed-air worker
  2. CFR--Code of Federal Regulations
  3. DCI--Decompression Illness
  4. EPBTBM--Earth Pressure Balanced Tunnel Boring Machine
  5. HOM--Hyperbaric Operations and Safety Manual
  6. JHA--Job hazard analysis
  7. OSHA--Occupational Safety and Health Administration
  8. OTPCA--Office of Technical Programs and Coordination Activities

  D. Definitions

      The following definitions apply to this permanent variance. These
  definitions supplement the definitions in IHP JV's project-specific
  HOM.
      1. Affected employee or worker--an employee or worker who is
  affected by the conditions of this permanent variance, or any one of
  his or her authorized representatives. The term "employee" has the
  meaning defined and used under the Occupational Safety and Health Act
  of 1970 (29 U.S.C. 651 et seq.)
      2. Atmospheric pressure--the pressure of air at sea-level,
  generally, 14.7 p.s.i.a., 1 atmosphere absolute, or 0 p.s.i.g.
      3. Compressed-air worker--an individual who is specially trained
  and medically qualified to perform work in a pressurized environment
  while breathing air at pressures up to 52 p.s.i.g.
      4. Competent person--an individual who is capable of identifying
  existing and predictable hazards in the surroundings or working
  conditions that are unsanitary, hazardous, or dangerous to employees,
  and who has authorization to take prompt corrective measures to
  eliminate them.\17\
  ---------------------------------------------------------------------------

      \17\ Adapted from 29 CFR 1926.32(f).
  ---------------------------------------------------------------------------

      5. Decompression illness--an illness (also called decompression
  sickness (DCS) or the bends) caused by gas bubbles appearing in body
  compartments due to a reduction in ambient pressure. Examples of
  symptoms of decompression illness include (but are not limited to):
  joint pain (also known as the 'bends' for agonizing pain or the
  'niggles' for slight pain); areas of bone destruction (termed dysbaric
  osteonecrosis); skin disorders (such as cutis marmorata, which causes a
  pink marbling of the skin); spinal cord and brain disorders (such as
  stroke, paralysis, paresthesia, and bladder dysfunction);
  cardiopulmonary disorders, such as shortness of breath; and arterial
  gas embolism (gas bubbles in the arteries that block blood flow).\18\
  ---------------------------------------------------------------------------

      \18\ See Appendix 10 of "A Guide to the Work in Compressed-Air
  Regulations 1996," published by the United Kingdom Health and
  Safety Executive available from NIOSH at
  http://www.cdc.gov/niosh/docket/archive/pdfs/NIOSH-254/compReg1996.pdf.
  ---------------------------------------------------------------------------

      Note: Health effects associated with hyperbaric intervention but
  not considered symptoms of DCI can include: barotrauma (direct damage
  to air-containing cavities in the body such as ears, sinuses and
  lungs); nitrogen narcosis (reversible alteration in consciousness that
  may occur in hyperbaric environments and is caused by the anesthetic
  effect of certain gases at high pressure); and oxygen toxicity (a
  central nervous system condition resulting from the harmful effects of
  breathing molecular oxygen (O2) at elevated partial
  pressures).
      6. Earth Pressure Balanced Tunnel Boring Machine--the machinery
  used to excavate the tunnel.
      7. Hot work--any activity performed in a hazardous location that
  may introduce an ignition source into a potentially flammable
  atmosphere.\19\
  ---------------------------------------------------------------------------

      \19\ Also see 29 CFR 1910.146(b).
  ---------------------------------------------------------------------------

      8. Hyperbaric--at a higher pressure than atmospheric pressure.
      9. Hyperbaric intervention--a term that describes the process of
  stopping the EPBTBM and preparing and executing work under hyperbaric
  pressure in the working chamber for the purpose of inspecting,
  replacing, or repairing cutting tools and/or the cutterhead structure.
      10. Hyperbaric Operations Manual--a detailed, project-specific
  health and safety plan developed and implemented by IHP JV for working
  in compressed air during the construction of the Anacostia River Tunnel.
      11. Job hazard analysis--an evaluation of tasks or operations to
  identify potential hazards and to determine the necessary controls.
      12. Man lock--an enclosed space capable of pressurization, and used
  for compressing or decompressing any employee or material when either
  is passing into or out of a working chamber.
      13. Pressure--a force acting on a unit area. Usually expressed as
  pounds per square inch (p.s.i.).
      14. p.s.i.--pounds per square inch, a common unit of measurement of
  pressure; a pressure given in p.s.i. corresponds to absolute pressure.
      15. p.s.i.a--pounds per square inch absolute, or absolute pressure,
  is the sum of the atmospheric pressure and gauge pressure. At sea-
  level, atmospheric pressure is approximately 14.7 p.s.i. Adding 14.7 to
  a pressure expressed in units of p.s.i.g. will yield the absolute
  pressure, expressed as p.s.i.a.
      16. p.s.i.g.--pounds per square inch gauge, a common unit of
  pressure; pressure expressed as p.s.i.g. corresponds to pressure
  relative to atmospheric pressure. At sea-level, atmospheric pressure is
  approximately 14.7 p.s.i. Subtracting 14.7 from a pressure expressed in
  units of p.s.i.a. yields the gauge pressure, expressed as p.s.i.g.
      17. Qualified person--an individual who, by possession of a
  recognized degree, certificate, or professional standing, or who, by
  extensive knowledge, training, and experience, successfully
  demonstrates an ability to solve or resolve problems relating to the
  subject matter, the work, or the project.\20\
  ---------------------------------------------------------------------------

      \20\ Adapted from 29 CFR 1926.32(m).
  ---------------------------------------------------------------------------

      18. Working chamber--an enclosed space in the EPBTBM in which CAWs
  perform interventions, and which is accessible only through a man lock.

  E. Safety and Health Practices

      1. IHP JV must develop and implement a project-specific HOM, and
  submit the HOM to OSHA for approval at least six months before using
  the EPBTBM. IHP JV must receive a written acknowledgement from OSHA
  regarding the acceptability of the HOM.\21\ The HOM shall provide the
  governing safety and health requirements regarding hyperbaric exposures
  during the tunnel-construction project.
  ---------------------------------------------------------------------------

      \21\ See footnote 7.
  ---------------------------------------------------------------------------

      2. IHP JV must implement the safety and health instructions
  included in the manufacturer's operations manuals for the EPBTBM, and
  the safety and health instructions provided by the manufacturer for the
  operation of decompression equipment.
      3. IHP JV must use air as the only breathing gas in the working
  chamber.
      4. IHP JV must use the 1992 French Decompression Tables for air,
  air-oxygen, and oxygen decompression specified in the HOM,
  specifically, the tables titled, "French Regulation Air Standard
  Tables."
      5. IHP JV must equip man locks used by its employees with an
  oxygen-delivery system as specified by the HOM. IHP JV must not store
  oxygen or other compressed gases used in conjunction with hyperbaric
  work in the tunnel.
      6. Workers performing hot work under hyperbaric conditions must use
  flame-retardant personal protective equipment and clothing.
      7. In hyperbaric work areas, IHP JV must maintain an adequate fire-
  suppression system approved for hyperbaric work areas.
      8. IHP JV must develop and implement one or more JHAs for work in
  the hyperbaric work areas, and review, periodically, and as necessary
  (e.g., after making changes to a planned intervention that affects its
  operation), the contents of the JHAs with affected employees. The JHAs
  must include all the job functions that the risk assessment \22\
  indicates are essential to prevent injury or illness.
  ---------------------------------------------------------------------------

      \22\ See ANSI/AIHA Z10-2012, American National Standard for
  Occupational Health and Safety Management Systems, for reference.
  ---------------------------------------------------------------------------

      9. IHP JV must develop a set of checklists to guide compressed-air
  work and ensure that employees follow the procedures required by this
  permanent variance (including all procedures required by the HOM, which
  this permanent variance incorporates by reference). The checklists must
  include all steps and equipment functions that the risk assessment
  indicates are essential to prevent injury or illness during compressed-
  air work.
      10. IHP JV must ensure that the safety and health provisions of the
  HOM adequately protect the workers of all contractors and
  subcontractors involved in hyperbaric operations.\23\
  ---------------------------------------------------------------------------

      \23\ See ANSI/ASSE A10.33-2011, American National Standard for
  Construction and Demolition Operations--Safety and Health Program
  Requirements for Multi-Employer Projects, for reference.
  ---------------------------------------------------------------------------

  F. Communication

      1. Prior to beginning a shift, IHP JV must implement a system that
  informs workers exposed to hyperbaric conditions of any hazardous
  occurrences or conditions that might affect their safety, including
  hyperbaric incidents, gas releases, equipment failures, earth or rock
  slides, cave-ins, flooding, fires, or explosions.
      2. IHP JV must provide a power-assisted means of communication
  among affected workers and support personnel in hyperbaric conditions
  where unassisted voice communication is inadequate.
      (a) IHP JV must use an independent power supply for powered
  communication systems, and these systems must operate such that use or
  disruption of any one phone or signal location will not disrupt the
  operation of the system from any other location.
      (b) IHP JV must test communication systems at the start of each
  shift and as necessary thereafter to ensure proper operation.

  G. Worker Qualifications and Training

      IHP JV must:
      1. Ensure that each affected worker receives effective training on
  how to safely enter, work in, exit from, and undertake emergency
  evacuation or rescue from, hyperbaric conditions, and document this
  training.
      2. Provide effective instruction, before beginning hyperbaric
  operations, to each worker who performs work, or controls the exposure
  of others, in hyperbaric conditions, and document this instruction. The
  instruction must include topics such as:
      (a) The physics and physiology of hyperbaric work;
      (b) Recognition of pressure-related injuries;
      (c) Information on the causes and recognition of the signs and
  symptoms associated with decompression illness, and other hyperbaric
  intervention-related health effects (e.g., barotrauma, nitrogen
  narcosis, and oxygen toxicity);
      (d) How to avoid discomfort during compression and decompression;
  and
      (e) Information the workers can use to contact the appropriate
  healthcare professionals should the workers have concerns that they may
  be experiencing adverse health effects from hyperbaric exposure.
      3. Repeat the instruction specified in paragraph (2) of this
  condition periodically, and as necessary (e.g., after making changes to
  its hyperbaric operations).
      4. When conducting training for its hyperbaric workers, make this
  training available to OSHA personnel and notify the OTPCA at OSHA's
  national office and the Baltimore/Washington DC Area Office before the
  training takes place.

  H. Inspections, Tests, and Accident Prevention

      1. IHP JV must initiate and maintain a program of frequent and
  regular inspections of the EPBTBM's hyperbaric equipment and support
  systems (such as temperature control, illumination, ventilation, and
  fire-prevention and fire-suppression systems), and hyperbaric work
  areas, as required under 29 CFR 1926.20(b)(2) by:
      (a) Developing a set of checklists to be used by a competent person
  in conducting weekly inspections of hyperbaric equipment and work
  areas; and
      (b) Ensuring that a competent person conducts daily visual checks
  and weekly inspections of the EPBTBM.
      2. If the competent person determines that the equipment
  constitutes a safety hazard, IHP JV must remove the equipment from
  service until it corrects the hazardous condition and has the
  correction approved by a qualified person.
      3. IHP JV must maintain records of all tests and inspections of the
  EPBTBM, as well as associated corrective actions and repairs, at the
  job site for the duration of the job.

  I. Compression and Decompression

      IHP JV must consult with its attending physician concerning the
  need for special compression or decompression exposures appropriate for
  CAWs not acclimated to hyperbaric exposure.

  J. Recordkeeping

      IHP JV must maintain a record of any recordable injuries,
  illnesses, in-patient hospitalizations, amputations, loss of an eye, or
  fatality (as defined by 29 CFR part 1904 Recording and Reporting
  Occupational Injuries and Illnesses), resulting from exposure of an
  employee to hyperbaric conditions by completing the OSHA 301 Incident
  Report form and OSHA 300 Log of Work Related Injuries and Illnesses.
      Note: Examples of important information to include on the OSHA 301
  Incident Report form (along with the corresponding question on the
  form) must address the following: the task performed (Question (Q) 14);
  an estimate of the CAW's workload (Q 14); the composition of the gas
  mixture (e.g., air or oxygen); the pressure worked at (Q 14);
  temperature in the work and decompression environments (Q 14); did
  something unusual occur during the task or decompression (Q 14); time
  of symptom onset (Q 15); duration of time between decompression and
  onset of symptoms (Q 15); nature and duration of symptoms (Q 16); a
  medical summary of the illness or injury (Q 16); duration of the
  hyperbaric intervention (Q 17); any possible contributing factors (Q
  17); the number of prior interventions completed by injured or ill CAW
  (Q 17); the number of prior interventions completed by injured or ill
  CAW at that pressure (Q 17); the contact information for the treating
  healthcare provider (Q 17); and the date and time of last hyperbaric
  exposure for this CAW.
      In addition to completing the OSHA 301 Incident Report form and
  OSHA 300 Log of Work Related Injuries and Illnesses, IHP JV must
  maintain records of:
      1. The date, times (e.g., began compression, time spent
  compressing, time performing intervention, time spent decompressing),
  and pressure for each hyperbaric intervention.
      2. The name of each individual worker exposed to hyperbaric
  pressure and the decompression protocols and results for each worker.
      3. The total number of interventions and the amount of hyperbaric
  work time at each pressure.
      4. The post-intervention physical assessment of each individual CAW
  for signs and symptoms of decompression illness, barotrauma, nitrogen
  narcosis, oxygen toxicity or other health effects associated with work
  in compressed air or mixed gasses for each hyperbaric intervention.

  K. Notifications

      1. To assist OSHA in administering the conditions specified herein,
  IHP JV must:
      (a) Notify the OTPCA and the Baltimore/Washington DC Area Office of
  any recordable injuries, illnesses, in-patient hospitalizations,
  amputations, loss of an eye, or fatality (by submitting the completed
  OSHA 301 Incident Report form \24\) resulting from exposure of an
  employee to hyperbaric conditions including those that do not require
  recompression treatment (e.g., nitrogen narcosis, oxygen toxicity,
  barotrauma), but still meet the recordable injury or illness criteria
  (of 29 CFR 1904). The employer shall provide the notification within 8
  hours of the incident, or 8 hours after becoming aware of a recordable
  injury, illness, in-patient hospitalization, amputation, loss of an
  eye, or fatality, and submit a copy of the incident investigation (OSHA
  form 301) within 24 hours of the incident, or 24 hours after becoming
  aware of a recordable injury, illness, in-patient hospitalization,
  amputation, loss of an eye, or fatality. In addition to the information
  required by the OSHA form 301, the incident-investigation report must
  include a root-cause determination, and the preventive and corrective
  actions identified and implemented.
  ---------------------------------------------------------------------------

      \24\ See footnote 8.
  ---------------------------------------------------------------------------

      (b) Provide certification within 15 days of the incident that the
  employer informed affected workers of the incident and the results of
  the incident investigation (including the root-cause determination and
  preventive and corrective actions identified and implemented).
      (c) Notify the OTPCA and the Baltimore/Washington DC Area Office
  within 15 working days in writing of any change in the compressed-air
  operations that affects IHP JV's ability to comply with the conditions
  specified herein.
      (d) Upon completion of the Anacostia River Tunnel project, evaluate
  the effectiveness of the decompression tables used throughout the
  project, and provide a written report of this evaluation to the OTPCA
  and the Baltimore/Washington DC Area Office.

      Note:  The evaluation report is to contain summaries of: (1) The
  number, dates, durations, and pressures of the hyperbaric
  interventions completed; (2) decompression protocols implemented
  (including composition of gas mixtures (air and/or oxygen), and the
  results achieved; (3) the total number of interventions and the
  number of hyperbaric incidents (decompression illnesses and/or
  health effects associated with hyperbaric interventions as recorded
  on OSHA 301 and 300 forms, and relevant medical diagnoses and
  treating physicians' opinions); and (4) root-causes, and preventive
  and corrective actions identified and implemented.

      (e) To assist OSHA in administering the conditions specified
  herein, inform the OTPCA and the Baltimore/Washington DC Area Office as
  soon as possible after it has knowledge that it will:
      (i) Cease to do business;
      (ii) Change the location and address of the main office for
  managing the tunneling operations specified by the project-specific
  HOM; or
      (iii) Transfer the operations specified herein to a successor
  company.
      (f) Notify all affected employees of this permanent variance by the
  same means required to inform them of its application for a variance.
      2. OSHA must approve the transfer of this permanent variance to a
  successor company.

  Authority and Signature

      David Michaels, Ph.D., MPH, Assistant Secretary of Labor for
  Occupational Safety and Health, 200 Constitution Avenue NW.,
  Washington, DC 20210, authorized the preparation of this notice.
  Accordingly, the Agency is issuing this notice pursuant to 29 U.S.C. 655(d),
  Secretary of Labor's Order No. 1-2012 (77 FR 3912, Jan. 25, 2012), and
  29 CFR 1905.11.

      Signed at Washington, DC, August 14, 2015.
  David Michaels,
  Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health.
  [FR Doc. 2015-20571 Filed 8-19-15; 8:45 am]
  BILLING CODE 4510-26-P