OSHA Makes Shipbreakers Walk the Plank

OSHA announced this week that it had updated its National Emphasis Program (NEP) on Shipbreaking as well as it Enforcement Guidance for PPE's in Shipyard Employment. Started in 2000, the Shipbreaking NEP was updated last in 2005.

According to the announcement, OSHA inspections of shipbreaking operations will focus on 20 worker safety and health issues, including:

  • Asbestos and lead exposure
  • Polychlorinated biphenlys
  • 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
  • PPE's

OSHA also made clear in its announcement that reducing injuries and illnesses among Latino workers in the shipbreaking industry was a high priority. One way OSHA is attacking the problem is through an enforcement memorandum that directs inspectors to ensure workers are trained in a language they understand.

In addition to the NEP news, OSHA spotlighted a directive for shipyard employment that requires employers to pay for and provide free of charge certain PPE's, including steel-toed rubber boots, goggles, hard hats, hearing protection and respirators as needed.

If you are not in the shipbreaking business, yet are intrigued by the idea of breaking apart a ship, you may enjoy reading A Guide for Ship Scrappers: Tips for Regulatory Compliance, produced by the EPA.