OSHA to Release Ergonomic Guidelines for Shipyard Industry

As part of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration's (OSHA) continuing effort to use voluntary measures to reduce repetitive motion injuries, the agency announced that it would begin work on ergonomic guidelines for the shipyard industry, the fourth business sector to be so favored.

"We are continuing the process of working with stakeholders that want to reduce injuries and illnesses related to ergonomics," said OSHA Administrator John Henshaw. "Several groups representing the shipyard industry, including the American Shipbuilding Association and the Shipbuilders Council of America, and labor groups, including the International Brotherhood of Boilermakers, Iron Ship Builders, Blacksmiths, Forgers and Helpers, AFL-CIO, have expressed their willingness to work with us to develop these guidelines."

Bureau of Labor Statistics data show that in 2001, the injury and illness rate for the shipyard industry was 17.2 compared to an injury and illness rate of 5.7 for all private industry. In 2001, 33.6 percent of injuries and illnesses that resulted in days away from work for shipyard workers were musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs).

The draft guidelines are expected to be ready for public comment later this year. They will be published in the Federal Register for review before becoming final.

OSHA announced its comprehensive plan to dramatically reduce ergonomic injuries on April 5, 2002. In addition to industry-and-task-specific guidelines, the agency says the plan includes robust enforcement measures, workplace outreach, and advanced research. Recently, OSHA appears to have added a fifth element: "dedicated efforts to protect Hispanic and other immigrant workers."

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