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Safety in the shipyard industry: OSHA issues fact sheets on PPE, handheld power tools

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Washington — Recently published fact sheets from OSHA address personal protective equipment and the safe use of portable and handheld power tools.

Intended for shipyard employers and workers, the PPE fact sheet advises employers to first “assess work activities to determine hazards and identify the appropriate controls,” and offers a list of actions for conducting a hazard assessment as well as a checklist for selecting PPE.

OSHA reminds employers that they “must provide workers with appropriate PPE required by OSHA standards at no cost to the workers,” with some exceptions.

Included are summaries of different kinds of shipyard PPE, covering head, eye, face, knee, elbow, foot, hearing and respiratory protection, as well as clothing and gloves.

The fact sheet on portable and handheld power tools highlights some of the same information, including identifying and preventing hazards as a first step.

Approximately 200 workplace incidents involving portable and handheld power tools occur in the maritime industry each year, according to OSHA. The fact sheet places special emphasis on hazards involving portable abrasive wheel tools, which can eject wheel and workpiece fragments that can strike workers in the eyes, face and other exposed areas.

Employers should ensure those tools have guards that cover the spindle end, nut and flange projections, stay in alignment with the wheel, and do not exceed the strength of the fastenings. The fact sheet also offers tips for the safe use of power grinders.

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