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A Closer Look At Shipyard Safety Standards

Shipyards, as those who work at them understand, are incredibly dangerous places. Employees work on huge ships using giant pieces of machinery, often on an inconsistent work schedule and in a hazardous environment. Shipyard employees are at risk of severe injuries caused by slips and falls and hazardous materials can cause severe illnesses like mesothelioma.

Despite these hazardous conditions, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) asserts that many shipyards do not employ full-time, dedicated health and safety specialists. However, the government agency does require shipyards to follow a comprehensive set of health and safety standards and provides educational materials to help educate shipyard workers on the dangerous nature of their jobs and how to keep themselves from harm's way.

Employer responsibility

The OSHA Safety Standards for Shipyard Employment govern shipyard workplace safety. The standards require employers to comply with regulations and take responsibility for the compliance of their employees.

The safety standards cover a variety of different shipyard work conditions and tasks. For example, confined or enclosed working environments must be clear of hazardous materials and be tested for hazardous conditions before employees may perform their work duties. Employees that are performing "hot work," like welding, or "cold work," like cleaning, cannot work in areas where combustible or flammable materials are present.

The standards also outline an employer's responsibility to ensure that workplace fixtures like temporary work structures, ladders, lifeboats and radar and other communication systems are in safe working order and do not pose a threat to employees. Employers must also post signage warning employees of unsafe conditions where necessary as well as accident prevention and other safety alerts.

Employee education

In addition to these standards, OSHA also has several print resources available to shipyard workers to help educate them on workplace hazards and ways they can avoid accidents and injuries. These pamphlets are called Safety and Health Injury Prevention Sheets, or SHIPS and are accessible on OSHA's website.

Employees can take safety into their own hands by always wearing protective gear, communicating with team members, participating in safety education courses and understanding the protections afforded to them by the OSHA standards.

Shipyards are dangerous workplaces and employers are responsible for ensuring their employees are not put in harm's way as they make their living. If you or a loved one have been injured while working at a shipyard, please contact an experienced personal injury attorney.