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NOTICE: This is an OSHA Archive Document, and may no longer represent OSHA Policy. It is presented here as historical content, for research and review purposes only.
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Thursday, August 2, 2001
Contact: Bill Wright
Phone: (202) 693-1999


The Occupational Safety and Health Administration announced today a national emphasis program to increase federal inspections of shipbreaking operations to reduce or eliminate workplace hazards in the industry.

"Shipbreaking is one of the most dangerous segments of the maritime industry," said R. Davis Layne, acting OSHA administrator. "The scrapping of obsolete vessels presents numerous challenges, and employers must take extra care to safeguard their workers. By focusing inspection efforts on these operations, we believe injuries can be reduced."

The program comes on the heels of a 1999 Memorandum of Agreement between OSHA and the Departments of Defense and Transportation, and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) that established numerous requirements and responsibilities designed to reduce work-related injuries, illnesses and environmental hazards during ship scrapping operations. OSHA's national emphasis program is one of those requirements. The program is also in line with the agency's five-year strategic plan to reduce injuries and illnesses in targeted areas, including the shipyard industry.

Shipbreaking, also known as ship scrapping and ship disposal, involves the breaking down of a vessel's structure, including the removal of all gear and equipment. Over the next five years, it is projected that the United States Navy will dispose of more than 60 warships. The Maritime Administration (MARAD) will scrap more than 50 large vessels, while the U.S. Coast Guard will break up more than 200 small- to mid-sized vessels (50-200 feet).

The national emphasis program calls for OSHA area offices to begin conducting targeted comprehensive inspections of known shipbreaking operations. Additionally, OSHA's regional administrators will ensure that annual programmed comprehensive inspections are conducted for every Navy and MARAD vessel undergoing shipbreaking operations.

The inspections will focus on common hazards or workplace activities likely to cause injury or illness among workers. Among those are: asbestos, PCB and lead exposure; hazard communication; confined spaces; hearing conservation; fire prevention, personal protective equipment, emergency response and first aid; cutting and welding; paint removal; powered industrial truck operations; oil/fuel removal and tank cleaning; cranes; scaffolding; and fall protection.

Along with supporting the interagency agreement, OSHA's national emphasis program (detailed in a compliance directive sent to OSHA field offices yesterday) develops a scheduling system for the inspection of Navy and MARAD shipbreaking operations and establishes coordination among federal agencies involved in the operations. Other agencies include the U.S. Navy, Defense Logistics Agency, Defense Reutilization and Marketing Service, MARAD, and EPA. The program also develops a national reporting system for all OSHA shipbreaking inspections.

The twenty-four states and two territories which operate their own OSHA programs are encouraged, but not required, to adopt a similar emphasis program. The OSHA directive on this emphasis program is available on OSHA's website at under Regulations and Compliance, subcategory Compliance Directives, No. CPL 2-0.129. The Memorandum of Agreement on Interagency Coordination and Cooperation for Ship Scrapping can be found at:

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The text of this news release is available on the OSHA website at Information on this release will be made available to sensory impaired individuals upon request. Voice phone: (202) 693-1999.

Archive Notice - OSHA Archive

NOTICE: This is an OSHA Archive Document, and may no longer represent OSHA Policy. It is presented here as historical content, for research and review purposes only.

OSHA News Release - (Archived) Table of Contents

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