The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration today announced a final rule to protect the safety and health of shipyard workers, which is published in today's edition of the Federal Register. The rule updates existing requirements to reflect advances in industry practices and technology, and provides new protections from hazards that previously were not addressed, including the control of hazardous energy. It is expected to prevent about 350 serious injuries each year.

"This final rule is the result of collaboration between OSHA and the maritime industry," said Assistant Secretary of Labor for OSHA Dr. David Michaels. "Shipyard work is dangerous, and we believe we have crafted a rule that protects workers while balancing employer concerns regarding implementation."

Fourteen workplace safety and health categories are being addressed in this final rule, which updates and clarifies provisions in the shipyard employment standards that had largely gone unchanged since OSHA adopted them in 1972. Such updates include establishing minimum lighting for certain work sites, accounting for employees at the end of job tasks or work shifts when working alone and adding uniform criteria to ensure shipyards have an adequate number of appropriately trained first-aid providers. The rule also updates sanitation requirements.

In addition, OSHA added new provisions for the control of hazardous energy and motor vehicle safety. Until this final rule, the maritime industry did not have a specific standard to address the control of hazardous energy. Some employers have implemented portions of other lockout/tagout rules, such as 29 Code of Federal Regulations 1910.147, to protect their employees. Also, according to data from the Labor Department's Bureau of Labor Statistics' Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries, transportation incidents account for nearly 20 percent of all shipyard fatalities. The new rule's provisions seek to significantly reduce such incidents by requiring the use of seatbelts when operating motor vehicles in a shipyard.

To educate employers and employees regarding the new rule, OSHA updated a designated Web page, to include answers to frequently asked questions regarding the final rule. The rule itself also is available at www.osha.gov.