OSHA Drafts Ergonomic Guidelines for Shipyards, Invites Public Comments

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration issued a draft guideline yesterday that it hopes will help those in the shipyard industry prevent musculoskeletal injuries. It says the public is invited to submit comments on the draft--entitled Ergonomics for the Prevention of Musculoskeletal Disorders: Guidelines for Shipyards--until Nov. 13, 2007.

"These new guidelines, when finalized, will help us continue to meet OSHA's commitment to publish industry-specific ergonomics guidelines," said Assistant Secretary of Labor for OSHA Edwin G. Foulke, Jr. "Many shipyards have made substantial proactive efforts in recent years to address work-related musculoskeletal injuries. These guidelines will be another resource to help them succeed in those efforts."

Bureau of Labor Statistics data show that in 2005, the injury and illness rate for the shipyard industry was 10.9 per 100 employees compared to an injury and illness rate of 4.6 per 100 employees for all private industry. In 2005, 31 percent of injuries and illnesses that resulted in days away from work for shipyard employees involved musculoskeletal disorders.

When finalized, the new guidelines will provide practical recommendations for employers to reduce the number and severity of workplace injuries in their facilities by identifying, evaluating, and controlling hazards and using best practices that have been successful in shipyards, the agency said. In April 2002, Secretary of Labor Elaine L. Chao announced a comprehensive plan to reduce ergonomics-related injuries through a combination of industry or task-specific guidelines, enforcement, outreach and assistance, and research. The new guidelines will be the fourth in a series. In 2003 and 2004, OSHA published the final ergonomics guidelines for nursing homes, retail grocery stores, and poultry processing industries.

To read the complete draft guideline, visit http://www.osha.gov/dsg/guidance/shipyard-guidelines.html. To submit comments electronically or obtain other ways to submit them, visit http://www.regulations.gov.

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