Shipyards are next in line to receive ergonomics guidelines from OSHA, the agency announced April 1. And that's no April Fool's joke.

Representatives from the industry and labor have agreed to work with OSHA to develop draft guidelines that will be available for public comment.

"Several groups representing the shipyard industry, including the American Shipbuilding Association and the Shipbuilders Council of America, and labor groups, including the International Brotherhood of Boilermakers, Iron Ship Builders, Blacksmiths, Forgers and Helpers, AFL-CIO, and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, AFL-CIO, have expressed their willingness to work with us to develop these guidelines," said OSHA chief John Henshaw.

Shipyards are filled with dangers. Bureau of Labor Statistics data show that in 2001, the injury and illness rate for the shipyard industry was 17.2 compared to a rate of 5.7 for all private industry. In 2001, 33.6 percent of injuries and illnesses that resulted in days away from work for shipyard workers were musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs).

The draft guidelines are expected to be ready for public comment later this year. They will be published in the Federal Register for review before becoming final.