OSHA seeks comment on shipyard fall protection rules

The following is the text of a news release from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA):

(WASHINGTON) — The Occupational Safety and Health Administration on Thursday issued a request for information (RFI) as the agency considers updating its safety standards under Subpart E of the Occupational Safety and Health Standards in Shipyard Employment. The standards address falls in shipbuilding, ship repair, shipbreaking and other shipyard-related employment.

Specifically, the RFI seeks comments and information on the safe access and egress of vessels, buildings and other structures in shipyard employment (including the use of stairways and ladders); use of fall and falling object protection; and erection, use and dismantling of scaffolding systems.

Comments and materials may be submitted electronically to www.regulations.gov, the rederal e-rulemaking portal, or via mail, facsimile or hand delivery. See the Federal Register notice for submission details. The submission deadline is Dec. 7.

Fall hazards are a leading cause of shipyard fatalities. Forty percent of all fatal occupational incidents in shipyard employment from 1992 to 2014 were caused by falls to a lower level, according to Bureau of Labor Statistics.

OSHA has not updated its safety standards in 29 CFR Part 1915, Subpart E since adopting them in 1971. Current standards do not cover all access/egress hazards and do not address advances in technology such as new scaffold systems. Information obtained from the RFI will provide OSHA with insight on current practices used to protect workers from shipyard hazards, and will help the agency determine if revisions or updates to the standards are necessary.

Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, employers are responsible for providing safe and healthful workplaces for their employees. OSHA's role is to ensure these conditions for America's working men and women by setting and enforcing standards, and providing training, education and assistance. For more information, visit www.osha.gov.

By Professional Mariner Staff