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News Release USDL: 96-199
Wednesday, May 22, 1996
Contact: Susan Hall Fleming (202) 219-8151

OSHA Updates Personal Protective Equipment Requirements For Shipyards To Prevent 14,000 Injuries Annually

One out of every three shipyard workers gets hurt on the job. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) wants that high injury percentage reduced and so is updating the shipyard employment rules for selecting and wearing personal safety equipment such as hardhats, safety shoes, flotation devices and body harnesses.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 40 percent of severe injuries in maritime activities required more than 10 days away from work. Compliance with the revised rules should prevent 1,550 serious workplace injuries annually along with 12,650 less severe injuries, cutting total workplace injuries by one-third.

"Wearing personal protective equipment is a key part of a good safety and health program, and OSHA's updated rules will make newer, more comfortable equipment available to employees and employers," said Assistant Secretary Joseph A. Dear in announcing the updated standards.

"We've worked carefully with stakeholders to ensure that the revised standards are compatible with other OSHA requirements yet meet the unique working conditions of shipyard employment," Dear said. He noted that OSHA relied heavily upon recommendations from the shipyard employment industry.

The new rules reflect improvements in equipment since the original voluntary consensus standards were adopted in the early 1970's such as recently designed equipment that is more comfortable and effective in protecting employees but out of sync with outdated OSHA standards.

The shipyard personal protective rules cover eye, face, head,footand hand protection; water flotation; and body harnesses,lifelines and lanyards. The updated rules include new provisions on selecting equipment, handling defective and damaged equipment and training employees. The revised rules require employers to phase out body belts used for fall protection and non-locking snaphooks by Jan. 1, 1998.

Under the new standard, shipyard employers will assess hazards, by trade rather than by work area, to determine the need for protective equipment. Then employers will select appropriate equipment and train employees in using and caring for it. The standard includes two nonmandatory appendices covering hazard assessment and testing procedures for personal fall protection systems.

The U.S. shipyard industry employs about 106,000 with 79,000 production workers. OSHA's updated personal protection standard is expected to cost the 500 firms in the industry about $2 per employee for a total cost of $163,000.

OSHA proposed the changes in personal protective equipment requirements in 1988 as part of an overall effort to update shipyard standards. The shipyard industry specifically asked the agency to develop a comprehensive set of standards that would incorporate applicable general industry rules tailored to the needs of shipyard employment.

Corresponding personal protective equipment requirements for general industry were updated April 6, 1994. The agency reopened its rulemaking on shipyard employment personal protective equipment July 6, 1994, to incorporate information from the general industry rulemaking and provide a written comment period for the shipyard PPE proposal so the public could have an opportunity to comment on the newly incorporated materials. Then on January 25, 1995, the agency held an informal public meeting with shipyard stakeholders to discuss specific issues such as certification of hazard assessment, certification of training and training elements and body belts and body harnesses.

The standard is scheduled for publication in the May 24 Federal Register. Most provisions take effect Aug. 22, 1996.

Paperwork requirements for the standard are pending Office of Management and Budget approval. Written comments on the paperwork requirements should be submitted to the OSHA Docket Office, Docket #S-045, Room N2625, 200 Constitution Ave., N.W., Washington, D.C. 20210 no later than July 23, 1996. Comments of 10 or fewer pages may be faxed to (202) 219-5046.

States and territories operating their own safety and health plans that cover shipyard employment safety and health must adopt comparable standards within six months. Five states (California, Minnesota, Oregon, Vermont and Washington) cover private sector on-shore maritime activities.

The remaining states and territories must extend coverage to state and local government employees engaged in shipyard employment activities. These include Alaska, Arizona, Connecticut, Hawaii, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Maryland, Michigan, Nevada, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Puerto Rico, South Carolina, Tennessee, Utah, Virginia, Virgin Islands and Wyoming.

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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