OSHA and the PSDSRA, which represents more than 30 ship-repair companies at the port, agreed to work together to eliminate the risk of catastrophic accidents and prevent serious injuries and illnesses to workers. About 95 percent of the work performed by these companies is on U.S. Navy vessels at the port.
"Shipyards can be highly hazardous workplaces," Henshaw said. "It is precisely this type of commitment on the part of employer groups that we need to help companies reduce injuries and illnesses and assure safer workplaces for their employees."
Employers participating in the partnership with OSHA must make an up-front commitment at their highest executive levels to a formal safety and health program with employee participation. The companies must establish joint employer/employee safety and health committees that include worker participation in several areas, including OSHA inspections. Employers must also commit to having a full-time employee with safety and health responsibility, including the authority to make safety and health corrections and to shut down operations that pose an imminent danger risk.
Participating companies also agree to train workers on fire and emergency procedures, hazard communications and personal protective equipment, with special emphasis on respiratory protection and noise, and make Material Safety Data Sheets available to any requesting employee. The companies also agree to train all affected personnel on aspects of confined space entry, a particular hazard in the ship repair industry.
OSHA also wants employer-conducted workplace safety inspections no less than once a month and notification to all affected employees of any hazards identified during those inspections. Employers also agreed to train their workforce in the details of their safety and health programs, their rights and responsibilities in maintaining a safe and healthful workplace, and on the procedures to identify and correct hazards in their work areas.
For participating companies who meet the intent of the partnership, OSHA will conduct focused verification inspections instead of programmed inspections, and will use inspectors trained in the terms of the partnership. The agency also will help participating companies with training, and give technical advice, publications and training materials to employers who request the assistance.