Louisiana shipyards under OSHA scrutiny

August 9, 2005

Bollinger Gulf Repair, New Orleans, and Kody Marine Inc., Harvey, La., have been fined $65,000 and $45,300 respectively by the U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) for failure to protect employees from hazards.

With corporate headquarters in Lockport, La., Bollinger operates 14 shipyards in South Louisiana and Texas. It was issued citations alleging 10 serious, two repeat, and four other-than-serious violations following an OSHA inspection that began April 13 at the   New Orleans worksite, which employs 79 workers, as part of OSHA's shipbuilding and repair industry "local emphasis program."

Kody Marine, a tug repair facility that employs about 65 workers, was issued citations alleging 21 serious, two repeat, and five other-than-serious violations following an inspection that began May 12 as part of the same program.

"There are more than 90 shipbuilding facilities in Louisiana, and OSHA is targeting companies with injury and illness rates greater than the industry average," said Greg Honaker, OSHA area director in Baton Rouge. "OSHA will be looking at excessive noise levels; confined space entry hazards; fall and electrical hazards; exposure to airborne contaminants such as cadmium, nickel, chromium, zinc, and iron metal fumes; and other violations."

Serious violations were issued to Bollinger for failing to require an employee wear a seat belt while operating a rough-terrain forklift, test the atmosphere of an enclosed space before employees enter, guard openings in the hull and on the barge deck, test and certify a crane, keep fire response equipment in a state of readiness, guard machines, and cover a high-voltage panel. A serious violation is one that could cause death or serious physical harm to employees, and the employer knew or should have known about the hazard.

Bollinger was issued repeat citations for failing to guard the edge of a deck, platform, or flat and failing to provide safe access to a barge. Other-than-serious violations included failing to affix identification tags on steel slings, provide strain relief on an electrical connection, protect flexible cords and cables from accidental damage, and develop and implement a written fire safety plan. An other-than-serious violation is a hazard that probably would not cause death or serious physical harm but would have a direct and immediate relationship to the employees' safety and health.

Kody Marine's serious violations are failing to guard machinery, train employees who enter confined spaces, provide safe access to vessels, and develop and implement a fire safety plan. Improper storage around electrical equipment, improperly securing a ladder, and operating a forklift with a safety defect also were cited as serious.

Repeat citations were issued for allowing hot work without the required testing and certification of the work space by a marine chemist and failing to guard deck and platform edges.

Other-than-serious citations were issued for failing to separate fuel and oxygen cylinders, not covering electrical boxes, failing to perform a personal protective equipment hazard assessment, and no respirator and hazardous communications programs.