The rule takes account of the unique hazards and nature of shipyard employment. Work is done aboard vessels, in confined or enclosed spaces below deck, on scaffolds, and on busy, crowded docks.

OSHA Updates Shipyard Regulations

The final rule deals to a significant extent with lockout/tagout. It was published on Monday and will take effect Aug. 1, 2011. The LOTO provision becomes effective and enforceable Oct. 31, however.

A new final rule from OSHA updates its standards for work done in shipyards, in particular work done on live electrical equipment. Much of the rule's text concerns lockout/tagout. It was published May 2 and will take effect Aug. 1, 2011, and be enforceable on that date -- except for the LOTO provision, Sec. 1915.89, which becomes effective and enforceable on Oct. 31, 2011.

Current OSHA shipyard standards date to the earliest days of OSHA; this update and consolidation has been in the works for more than two decades, with OSHA publishing a proposed rule in December 2007 and holding public hearings in 2008.

The rule takes account of the unique hazards and nature of shipyard employment. Work is done aboard vessels, in confined or enclosed spaces below deck, on scaffolds, and on busy, crowded docks. "The safe coordination of shipyard employment activities also is complicated by the fact that most shipyards are multi-employer worksites where shipyard workers, ship's crew, contractors, and subcontractors work side-by-side and often on the same vessel system at the same time," the rule's text states. "The combination of these hazards puts workers at risk of injury, regardless of whether they are working on vessels or at landside operations."

OSHA said the rule's performance-based approach offers flexibility to employers in finding the most effective strategies for controlling hazards and protecting workers.

OSHA added two new definitions:

  • "Host employer," added to clarify the requirements in 1915.89(l), Procedures for multi-employer worksites. The definition is currently included in subpart P, Fire Protection for Shipyard Employment: "Host employer" is an employer who is in charge of coordinating the shipyard-employment work of other employers, or who hires other employers to perform shipyard-employment work or to provide shipyard employment-related services at a multi-employer worksite.
  • "Isolated location" for 1915.84, Working alone. As many commenters requested, OSHA added a new definition: an area where employees are working alone or with little assistance from others due to the type, time, or location of their work. The rule lists examples: an employee working alone on a job task at the far end of a vessel, vessel section, or shipyard; an employee working alone in a hold, sonar space, or tank; an employee working in a confined space; and situations where co-workers may be near an employee working alone but are not participating in the work of the lone worker, such as two employees working on either side of a metal partition or when one employee performs hot work and a firewatch is on the other side of the bulkhead.

As with many OSHA regulations, the economic analysis concludes this regulation will prevent only a few fatalities per year. It will prevent 48.1 lost workday and 89.1 non-lost workday lockout/tagout injury cases, the agency calculated.

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