OSHA Reissues Shipbreaking National Emphasis Program, Updates Shipyard PPE Directive

OSHA issued two directives on Nov. 4 to update its National Emphasis Program on Shipbreaking and its Enforcement Guidance for Personal Protective Equipment in Shipyard Employment.

Inspections of shipbreaking operations will focus on 20 worker safety and health issues, including asbestos and lead exposure, polychlorinated biphenlys, confined spaces, heavy metals, powered industrial trucks, guarding of deck edges, oil/fuel removal and tank cleaning, hearing conservation, fire prevention, scaffolds, cutting and welding and personal protective equipment.

The Shipbreaking national emphasis program (NEP) was initiated in 2000 in support of a 1999 agreement between OSHA, the U.S. Navy, the Maritime Administration and EPA. This November 2010 Shipbreaking NEP replaces the update of March 2005.

The revised NEP directive supports the agency’s goal to reduce injuries and illnesses among Latino workers, who comprise a significant part of the shipbreaking work force. Although OSHA standard 29 CFR 1915.73 does not require guarding deck openings and edges in shipbreaking tasks, the revised NEP provides clarification regarding fall protection requirements during shipbreaking operations. This revised NEP is available in a Web-based format with links to shipyard employment safety and health information.

PPE Directive

OSHA also issued a shipyard employment directive on personal protective equipment that includes employer requirements to pay – that is, provide at no cost to the worker – for certain PPE. Steel-toed rubber boots, goggles, hard hats, hearing protection and respirators are some of the protective items employers must provide free of charge.

This revised Web-based directive also describes equipment that employers do not have to pay for, such as ordinary clothing used as protection from weather, non-specialty prescription safety eyewear and PPE that a worker already owns and is allowed to use instead of the employer-provided PPE.

This revised shipyard PPE guidance also recognizes consensus standards updates in OSHA’s September 2009 final rule, Updating OSHA Standards Based on National Consensus Standards; Personal Protective Equipment. It sets forth enforcement policies that OSHA inspectors should use when citing employers for failing to provide the necessary PPE to their workers.

For more information, visit http://www.osha.gov/pls/oshaweb/owadisp.show_document?p_table=DIRECTIVES&p_id=4635.

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