Remarks prepared for
Donald G. Shalhoub
Deputy Assistant Secretary
Occupational Safety and Health
United States Department of Labor
Maritime Advisory Committee on Occupational Safety and Health
Tuesday, March 24, 2009
Welcome to the Department of Labor. This is the first MACOSH meeting under the new charter, which began on September 23, 2008 and expires on September 23, 2010.
As is true with other federal departments and agencies under the new administration, OSHA is transitioning to new leadership. Hilda Solis, our new Secretary of Labor, was sworn in by Vice President Biden here in this building on March 13; Jeff Navin is the Secretary's Deputy Chief of Staff; and Deborah Greenfield is Director of the Department's Office of the Executive Secretariat.
Here in OSHA, we have made a few staff changes since the last time we met:
- Tom Galassi has moved from the Deputy position in Enforcement to direct OSHA's newly renamed Directorate of Technical Support and Emergency Management.
- Richard Fairfax has been named Acting Director of Construction in addition to keeping his responsibilities as Director of the Directorate of Enforcement.
- At about this time last year, Steve Witt moved from our Construction Directorate to direct Cooperative and State Programs. Paula White, our former director, retired after a long and distinguished tenure with OSHA.
- Also one year ago, Jennifer Ashley joined us as the new director of OSHA's Office of Communications. She was formerly Director of Communications for the International Association of Fire Chiefs.
We also have new leadership in some of our Regional offices:
- Bob Kulick is now the Regional Administrator for Region 2. (Formerly he was the Avenel, NJ, Area Director)
- John Hermanson is the Regional Administrator for Region 3 (formerly Deputy Regional Administrator for OSHA Region 8)
- Ken Atha: is the Regional Administrator for Region 9 (formerly Area Director in our office in Mobile, and former Acting Deputy Regional Administrator, Region 3)
Throughout these changes, OSHA has continued to focus its priorities on setting and enforcing standards, listening to stakeholders, and emphasizing prevention.
We're pleased to have so many experienced members serving on this committee. You're all strong advocates for workplace safety and health, and your willingness to volunteer for this important work is certainly appreciated. Thank you for agreeing to serve.
Since MACOSH was first chartered in 1995, the committee has made over 30 recommendations to OSHA. OSHA has completed work on several of those recommendations, we are working on several more, and we are continuing to consider others.
- MACOSH recommended that OSHA update and republish the shipyard and longshoring industry digests, and we did so.
- The committee also recommended that OSHA develop a Safety and Health Injury Prevention Sheet, which we completed in 2007.
- The most recent MACOSH group met five times over its two-year charter. As a result of these meetings and many teleconferences, MACOSH reviewed several guidance documents that were developed by our Directorate of Standards and Guidance.
This first meeting is going to be a busy one, with several presentations by Department of Labor staff, who will discuss your role as an advisory committee member and the ethics standards you must follow. In addition, we will discuss the accomplishments from the previous charter and the goals for the next two years, including the establishment of MACOSH workgroups for this charter.
Before I leave you to your important work, I want to give you a brief update on some key OSHA activities since the last charter.
SUBPART F - GENERAL WORKING CONDITIONS IN SHIPYARDS
OSHA has proposed revising its standards on General Working Conditions in Shipyard Employment (29 CFR Part 1915, subpart F). The rule to revise Subpart F is expected to prevent 142 injuries a year. We estimate that implementing the rule will cost employers about $1 million, but the total benefits are expected to reach $15.4 million. At this time, we are analyzing comments provided by two public hearings in 2008 and the comment period that closed February 20, 2009.
VERTICAL TANDEM LIFTS
Since 1993, through a letter of interpretation, OSHA has permitted the lifting of two intermodal containers in tandem. In 2003, OSHA moved to standardize the practice, with specified conditions, by publishing a proposed rule on these Vertical Tandem Lifts, or "VTLs." On December 10, 2008, the final rule was published with an effective date of April 9, 2009. You may be aware that OSHA is currently involved in litigation with the National Maritime Safety Association over the final rule. However, the effective date will remain until further notice.
COURSE DEVELOPMENT - OTI 2090 COURSE
As you know, OSHA places a strong value on employee training as the best strategy for preventing on-the-job injuries and illnesses. With this in mind, several years ago we developed the Compliance Safety and Health Officers (CSHOs) Training Course for Shipyard Employment, to train CSHOs to recognize jurisdictional issues and to properly apply OSHA standards. Although the training has greatly helped CSHOs perform maritime inspections, we realized that the course would be that much more effective if presented with a more hands-on approach. This is why the OSHA Training Institute, along with the Directorate of Standards and Guidance, set out to redevelop the OTI 2090 course, using more videos, PowerPoint presentations, workbooks, and industry experience. The new course materials are in the final stages of development and should be ready soon for a trial run with a test group.
We are in the final stages of publishing an updated guidance document for the shipyard industry. The document compiles major, applicable safety and health standards, including three new standards that have been established since the last edition: Fire Protection for Shipyard Employment, Hexavalent Chromium, and Employer Payment for PPE. The updated guidance document will be available in April 2009.
This will be followed later this year by a new edition of the major standards for the longshoring industry, with similar updates.
OSHA has developed a draft guidance document designed to help prevent injuries at marine terminals involved in roll-on/roll-off operations. At this time we are incorporating into the draft several revisions suggested by MACOSH under the last charter.
In January, two products approved by MACOSH were published on the OSHA web page. The deck barge safety guidance document and the spud barge fact sheet were designed to show employers and employees the need for proper controls, procedures, and training to prevent serious injuries while working on barges. These guidance products can be viewed on the OSHA website and is provided as a handout here today.
A guidance document on ship scrapping, now in development, will help employers and employees maintain a safe work environment. We are now reviewing the document, which incorporates revisions suggested by MACOSH.
Finally, our Office of Maritime is developing a series of QuickCards for the longshoring industry, thanks to a recommendation from our Savannah Area Office. The topics will cover first aid kits, life saving equipment, and gangway Safety.
OSHA looks forward to working with this distinguished advisory committee and we welcome the results of the committee's hard work. If there is anything that the Agency or the Directorate of Standards and Guidance can do to make your term more productive and pleasant, please ask.
Before I leave you to your important work, I will stay a few moments longer to take one or two questions...