NORFOLK, VA. -- While welding the frame of a U.S. Navy vessel, a shipyard worker was just 1 foot away from three open manholes that exposed the employee to potential falls of up to 30 feet. These, and other alleged safety and health hazards, were cited against Colonna's Shipyard Inc., a ship repair facility in Norfolk, following a May 2014 inspection conducted by the U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration.
Initiated as part of the agency's Local Emphasis Program* on shipbuilding and repair, OSHA's investigation found 12 safety and health violations, including four repeat. The company faces $101,000 in proposed penalties.
'Shipyard work is traditionally hazardous, with an injury and accident rate more than twice that of construction and general industry,' said Dan DeWease, director of OSHA's Norfolk Area Office. 'Colonna's Shipyard must do a better job of protecting workers from the dangers associated with this type of work. With the right safeguards, accidents are preventable.'
In addition to the unguarded manholes, OSHA inspectors determined that fall protection was not provided for employees working on a barge, which exposed them to a potential fall of more than 18 feet. Inspectors also found that, because of defective equipment, employees were exposed to a number of electrical hazards while welding. Having been previously cited for similar hazards in 2010, the company received four repeat citations, carrying an $85,000 penalty. A repeat violation exists when an employer previously has been cited for the same or a similar violation of a standard, regulation, rule or order at any other facility in federal enforcement states within the last five years.
Colonna's Shipyard was also cited for four serious violations, with a $16,000 penalty, for expecting workers to use damaged electrical equipment and unguarded machinery. A serious violation occurs when there is substantial probability that death or serious physical harm could result from a hazard about which the employer knew or should have known. Four additional violations were cited for other guarding, electrical and fire extinguisher hazards.
OSHA has created a Stop Falls Web page with detailed information in English and Spanish on fall protection standards. The page offers fact sheets, posters and videos that vividly illustrate various fall hazards and appropriate preventive measures.
For more information on maritime safety, visit: http://go.usa.gov/sygG.
Colonna's Shipyard, which performs repairs on U.S. Navy vessels, tugboats, barges and ferryboats, has 15 business days from receipt of its citations and proposed penalties to comply, meet informally with OSHA's area director, or contest the findings before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.
To ask questions, obtain compliance assistance, file a complaint or report workplace hospitalizations, fatalities or situations posing imminent danger to workers, the public should call OSHA's toll-free hotline at 800-321-OSHA (6742) or the Norfolk Area Office at 757-441-3820.
Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, employers are responsible for providing safe and healthful workplaces for their employees. OSHA's role is to ensure these conditions for America's working men and women by setting and enforcing standards, and providing training, education and assistance. For more information, visit http://www.osha.gov.