April 27, 2023

OSHA Warns of Heat Illness in Shipyard Confined Spaces

A new OSHA document focuses on preventing heat illness among maritime sector employees who work in confined spaces. The agency explains that working in confined spaces can increase employees’ risk of heat illness due to several factors: for example, some personal protective equipment can contribute to overheating, and temperatures in confined spaces are often higher than outside, while airflow is usually low. The publication outlines measures employers can take to prevent heat illness among shipyard workers, covering topics such as training workers on heat illness risks, symptoms, response procedures, and prevention; planning work schedules to allow new and returning workers to acclimatize to heat; adjusting work duration or scheduling based on current heat conditions; and setting controls and monitoring activity at work sites. Another section of the publication highlights the signs of heat illness and lists actions to take if a worker exhibits heat illness symptoms.

A fact sheet published by OSHA earlier this year highlighted physical hazards in shipyard confined spaces, such as slippery and sloping working surfaces, corroded ladder rungs, moving or rotating equipment, obstructions, and elevated walking-working surfaces.

The new publication on heat illness in confined spaces is available from OSHA as a PDF. See the agency’s publications webpage for additional resources.