OSHA Updates Shipyard PPE Directive

The directive recognizes updated consensus standards and includes more information about the PPE shipyard employers must provide to workers at no cost, as well as PPE for which they don't have to pay.

OSHA has revised its National Emphasis Program on shipbreaking and has issued a directive explaining how its compliance officers will enforce the PPE payment requirements that apply to shipyard employers. The latter directive now includes charts listing PPE that must be supplied at no cost -- including steel-toed rubber boots, goggles, hard hats, welding PPE, certain types of gloves and apparel, hearing protection, personal fall protection equipment, and respirators -- as well as PPE that is exempt from the payment requirement.

The exempt category includes non-specialty footwear and eyewear, back belts, ordinary rain gear, uniforms and other clothing worn solely to designate the person as an employee, and dust masks and respirators used under the voluntary use provisions of 29 CFR 1910.134.

The directive confirms an employer does not have to pay for PPE requested by an employee that exceeds OSHA's PPE requirements, as long as the employer provides PPE that meets the standards at no cost. Employers may require that PPE provided at no cost to employees remain at the job site, such as inside a locker or storage facility, it says.

According to OSHA, the shipbreaking national emphasis program began in 2000 in support of a 1999 agreement between OSHA, the U.S. Navy, the Maritime Administration, and EPA. The updated NEP will consist of inspections that focus on 20 safety and health issues, including asbestos and lead exposure, polychlorinated biphenyls, 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 PPE.

"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 workforce," the agency's announcement states. "Though 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."

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