By Sam Pearson
Sept. 7 — Federal regulators are taking a long-awaited first step to issuing revised fall protection requirements for shipyards.In a request for information scheduled for publication Sept. 8 in the Federal Register, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration is seeking input on proposals to revise portions of 29 C.F.R. 1915 Subparts E, M and N (RIN:1218-AA68). The revisions would concern fall protection rules for shipyard settings, which have not been updated since 1971.
According to the notice, OSHA is considering revising shipyard employment standards for fall and falling object protection, making the regulations more consistent and doing more to determine technological advances, best practices and outdated provisions. A proposed rule could also serve to consolidate and reorganize parts of the existing rule, including by incorporating standards from a related rulemaking covering fall protection for general industry (RIN:1218-AB80), OSHA said.
OSHA is accepting public comments until Dec. 7.
Three to four workers are killed each year in falls at shipyards, the agency said.
In the most recent regulatory agenda, OSHA stated that existing standards for scaffolds, ladders and other working surfaces “are not comprehensive in their coverage of fall hazards in shipyards.” The language also does not reflect the latest technology at shipyards, among other deficiencies, OSHA said.
The request comes after years of delay. OSHA previously planned to issue a request for information in March and before that, September 2015. The agency also considered revising the standards in 1988 and 1994 but didn’t complete the process.
OSHA issued a directive to employers in April 2014 providing additional information on how fall protection rules apply in shipyard settings.
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