The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), Bath Iron Works (BIW) and local unions have joined in a cooperative effort to identify, address and eliminate injuries and illnesses at the shipbuilder's Maine facilities.
Under an agreement signed March 27, BIW voluntarily agrees to fully implement effective comprehensive safety and health programs at all its worksites. These programs will conform to OSHA's Safety and Health Program Management Guidelines and BIW's safety and health initiatives and manual. BIW will also study the injuries and illnesses experienced by its workforce and continue to gather, analyze and provide OSHA with relevant injury, illness and accident data.
"This agreement highlights the value of business, workers and government combining their respective skills for the common purpose of securing a safer, healthier work environment at one of Maine's largest private employers," said John L. Henshaw, the assistant labor secretary-OSHA. "Working together, voluntarily, cooperatively and continuously, they can make this goal a reality."
In acknowledgement of the company's commitment, OSHA will meet quarterly with BIW and its unions to assist in safety training, provide technical advice and be updated on how the safety and health programs are being implemented.
"At Bath Iron Works we share in the common belief that the safety and health of all employees is the number one priority," said BIW President Allan C. Cameron. "We have a strong commitment to improving and maintaining safe working conditions, employee awareness and training, and having people remain healthy and safe at all times."
Michael Keenan, president of Local 6, International Association of Machinists noted, "Active worker involvement is critical to the safety and health programs being implemented under this agreement. This mutual effort provides the opportunity for prompt identification and effective resolution of safety issues throughout our workplace."
The agreement follows OSHA's recent comprehensive inspection of BIW's manufacturing and warehouse facilities in Brunswick, Maine. That inspection resulted in one repeat and 34 serious citations, with $114,000 in proposed penalties. OSHA investigators found a variety of safety hazards involving cranes, forklifts, electrical equipment, machine guarding, equipment maintenance and fall protection.
"Eliminating all on the job hazards, injuries and illnesses at BIW is our common goal. Illnesses and injuries have decreased 30 percent over the past two-and-one-half years and the company has taken positive steps to address workplace hazards," said Freeman. "With this agreement, BIW recognizes the need to aggressively and effectively confront the many hazards present in a large, multi-faceted, physically challenging workplace."
edited by Sandy Smith ([email protected])