Participants of Port of San Diego Ship Repair Association Partnership Reduce Injury and Illness Rates and Achieve OSHA VPP Recognition


In November 2002, the Port of San Diego Ship Repair Association (PSDSRA) developed an OSHA Strategic Partnership (OSP) with OSHA's Regional Office located in San Francisco, CA (Region IX). Through this Partnership, participants' strive to instill a positive safety and health culture among all levels engaged in the high hazard shipbuilding and repair industry by protecting the 7,000 plus employees covered under the OSP. The main purpose of the OSP is to eliminate the risk of catastrophic accidents and to prevent serious injuries and illnesses to workers by establishing effective safety and health management systems (SHMS). The Partnership's main goals are to prevent serious injuries, illnesses, and deaths in the shipbuilding and repair industry and promote a positive safety and health environment.

Success Impact:
Participants Significantly Reduce Injury and Illness Rates and Receive VPP Recognition

Since the OSP was implemented, two participants - BAE Systems (formerly Southwest Marine) and Northrop Grumman/Continental Maritime of San Diego significantly reduced their injury and illness rates which helped them achieve Voluntary Protection Programs' (VPP) recognition, OSHA's premier recognition programs. In VPP, management, labor, and OSHA establish cooperative relationships that often result in increased management commitment and employee involvement, and reduced worker compensation costs. In 2006, BAE Systems achieved VPP recognition Star Status, and in 2007 Northrop Grumman/Continental Maritime received VPP Merit Status.

For example, Northrop Grumman/Continental Maritime's reduced their Days Away, Restricted and Transfer (DART) rate from 12.07 in 2003 to 6.94 in 2007 almost a 43 percent reduction. This participant also reduced their Total Case Incident Rate (TCIR) from 18.28 in 2003 to 10.09 in 2007 almost a 45 percent reduction and slightly below the most recent (2006) Bureau of Labor Statistics' (BLS) national average of 10.70 for the shipbuilding and repair industry. Their DART rate is almost at the 2006 BLS national average of 6.3.

OSP Identifies Key Industry Hazards and Improves Safety and Health Management Systems of All Participants

The OSP first identified three key hazards in the industry to address: respiratory irritation and systemic poisoning, confined spaces, and paint fumes. Then all five partners developed and/or improved their SHMS by incorporating the four critical elements of OSHA's 1989 Guidelines: Management Commitment and Employee Involvement, Worksite Analysis, Hazard Prevention and Control, and Training for Employees, Supervisors, and Managers.

All five OSP participants improved their hazard identification, prevention, and control capabilities, as well as increased employee involvement by offering three safety and health training programs to employees (the Confined Space Entry Program, the Respirator Protection Program, and the Emergency Rescue Program). This helped employees become more involved in recognizing and abating hazards throughout the workplace which ultimately led to fewer illnesses and injuries. The annual verification inspections found zero violations per inspection of partners compared to an average of 4.3 prior to the OSP forming.

OSP Benefits Experienced by Participants

Participants have experienced many benefits since the OSP was formed such as increasing safety and health awareness in the shipbuilding and repair industry and increasing the number of employees who are protected. However, one of the biggest benefits experienced by the participants is improved relationships with various stakeholders including OSHA, employers in the industry, and employees and unions. One of the earlier annual evaluations submitted by the OSP noted that labor-management issues were presenting a major challenge, particularly for the NASSCO participant. However, the OSP's latest annual evaluation stated that there had been a significant improvement in the relationship between employers and employees and was especially apparent during the verification inspections.

Partnership Objectives:

The two key objectives of the OSP are to prevent serious injuries, illnesses, and deaths in the shipbuilding and repair industry and promote a positive safety and health environment.


Origin: OSHA Region IX, San Francisco Regional Office

Partners: BAE Systems (formerly Southwest Marine), National Steel and Shipbuilding (NASSCO), L3 Communications/PACORD, Northrop Grumman/Continental Maritime of San Diego, and Pacific Repair and Fabrication, Inc.

Partnership Signed: November 2002

Industry: Ship Building and Repair / NAICS Code 336611, SIC Codes 3731 and 3717

Employees: 7,129

Employers: 5

Source: Danielle Gibbs, Office of Partnerships and Recognition, National Office OSPP Lead for Region IX and Nancy McCormick, OSPP Coordinator for Region IX / September 2008