The Shipyard Employment eTool from OSHA

By the Occupational Safety and Health Administration's (OSHA) own admission, the level of hazards present in shipyards is significantly higher than in other industries. It is at least twice that of construction and the general industry. This means that the rate of injuries and accidents in shipyards is double that of the general industry and another industry in which such accidents are common, namely construction.

Given this reality, OSHA has formulated an eTool as part of its Strategic Plan to bring down the incidence of injuries and disease, and to prevent deaths in the shipyard industry. This set of document guidelines has concretized in the form of the Shipyard Employment eTool.

The Shipyard Employment eTool defined

The OSHA Shipyard Employment eTool is a handbook that describes the common hazards and workplace vulnerabilities that employees and other visitors to shipyards are prone to. OSHA's Shipyard Employment eTool illustrates the possible ways in which these can be avoided.


The OSHA Shipyard Employment eTool is divided into five parts:

  • General requirements
  • Shipbuilding
  • Ship repair
  • Shipbreaking
  • Barge cleaning

The OSHA Shipyard Employment eTool's General Requirements are set out in 29 CFR 1915 and its various Parts. The Shipyard Employment eTool General Requirements section relates to the use of proper accessories such as ladders, drums, pressure vessels, containers, scaffolds, PPEs and so on.

Regulations relating to shipbuilding constitute the most important aspect of the Shipyard Employment eTool. These are essentially concerned with all the safety aspects at work, such as spaces, working conditions, what safety regulations to adhere to while being involved in various activities such as painting, cleaning, hot work, etc.

The Shipyard Employment eTool relating to ship repair lists the safety requirements that employers have to meet in order to ensure that those working on ship repair are protected from dangers. These include providing the right access, ensuring safety in the electrical systems, the proper machinery and piping systems, etc.

Shipbreaking being another highly hazardous activity, the OSHA Shipyard Employment eTool has elaborate prescriptions on how to ensure comprehensive safety at these kinds of workplaces. These include surveys and pre-planning for shipbreaking, removal of hazardous materials for specific sites, saving equipment by removing them from danger areas, and scrapping.

When it comes to cleaning of barges, the OSHA Shipyard Employment eTool specifies how to clean barges between the different types of cargoes. These include chemical cargo barges, flammable and combustible liquid cargo barges, and dry bulk cargo barges.