January 5, 2023

OSHA Highlights Physical Hazards in Shipyard Confined Spaces

A new OSHA fact sheet focuses on protecting workers in the maritime sector from physical hazards in confined spaces. The agency explains that hazards such as slippery and sloping working surfaces, corroded ladder rungs, moving or rotating equipment, obstructions, and elevated walking-working surfaces are common in confined spaces in this industry, and factors such as hot or cold conditions, poor lighting, and physically restrictive work areas can increase health and safety concerns. The fact sheet outlines measures employers can take to protect workers from falls, provide safe access to spaces, maintain adequate lighting, verify safe working conditions, and protect employees working alone.

OSHA stresses that employers must conduct a hazard assessment or job hazard analysis prior to any work activity in confined spaces. The agency encourages employers to consult shipyard competent persons, whose role is to ensure safe working conditions by determining whether a space is safe for workers to enter or perform hot work, when evaluating potential worker exposures. OSHA’s requirements regarding shipyard competent persons can be found on its website.

The new fact sheet is available from OSHA as a PDF. See the agency’s publications webpage for additional OSHA resources.