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OSHA seeks comments on shipyard fall protection rules

Louisiana maritime workers may be interested to learn that the Occupational Safety and Health Administration is seeking comments on its shipyard fall protection rules. The agency is interested in feedback concerning safe access to and egress from vessels and other shipyard structures, the use of fall protection and the use of scaffolding systems. Comments on increasing consistency in shipyard employment, industry best practices and identifying technological advances are also welcome. Comments must be submitted by Dec. 7.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, falls to a lower level caused 40 percent of all shipyard fatalities from 1992 to 2014. Between 2002 and 2014, there were 32 serious falls in U.S. shipyards, resulting in 24 fatalities. During the same period of time, nine shipyard workers were struck by falling objects, resulting in seven deaths.

To address the issue, OSHA wants to update federal fall standards, which haven't been revised since 1971. The agency said the standards are not comprehensive in their coverage of slip, trip and fall hazards to shipyard employees. OSHA also said the standards are outdated and do not reflect advances in industry best practices or technology.

Shipyard workers are at risk for fall injuries, crush injuries, back injuries, toxic exposure and other hazards. Workers who are injured on the job are eligible for workers' compensation benefits, which pay medical expenses and a portion of a worker's salary as they recover. If a worker suffers a permanent disability, long-term benefits may be available. Some workers find it helpful to consult with an attorney before filing a workers' compensation claim. If a worker has already filed a claim and been denied, an attorney could file an appeal on their behalf.

Source: OHS Online, "OSHA Wants Input on Shipyard Fall Protection Rules," Sept. 9, 2016

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