Guam – Guam Shipyard is disputing OSHA’s accusations that Shipyard employees are exposed to unsafe working conditions.
A statement from the Shipyard late Friday afternoon acknowledged that shipyard operations require potentially dangerous tasks, but it also states that “in the past 15 years of operation, no incident has ever occurred resulting in serious injury of an employee.” [read Guam Shipyard’s FULL statement below]
OSHA cited the Shipyard for a total of 61 violations of workplace safety and health standards, 46 of which were deemed serious violations. The Federal agency has proposed fining the Shipyard $293,450 dollars.
However Guam Shipyard responds they have maintained an “excellent” safety record, although their statement does say they have taken action to address the various safety issues in the OSHA report, since the inspections took place in January and February this year.
OSHA’s Honolulu Director, Galen Lemke, is quoted in a release as saying, “Both the number and seriousness of safety and health violations we identified during our inspection are cause for grave concern. We hope the results of our inspection will serve as a wakeup call, not only for this employer, but for others, about the importance of ensuring workplace safety and health for workers in Guam’s maritime industry.”
Out of the 61 violations, 46 were deemed serious. The violations include electrical hazards, such as failure to guard lights from damage, ground equipment, provide covers on electrical box openings and ensure wiring was protected from abrasion and strain. Guam Shipyard was also cited for lack of guardrail protections, failure to maintain good housekeeping practices, among other serious violations.
In addition, the OSHA release states that employees were exposed to hazardous chemicals without proper respiratory protection. For example, inspectors reported that Guam Shipyard did not conduct air monitoring to determine workers’ exposure level to cadmium—a metal similar to zinc or mercury, which could result in serious health effects caused by long term exposure, or even death if ingested in large quantities.
“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,” the release further states.
According to OSHA, Guam Shipyard has 15 days to respond to the citations by either complying with OSHA’s requirements, meeting with the area director or contesting the findings to an independent OSHA Health Review Commission.
READ the release from Guam Shipyard Below:
Date: August 2, 2013
GUAM SHIPYARD RESPONSE TO OSHA VIOLATIONS
APRA HARBOR, Guam. Guam Industrial Services, Inc., doing business as Guam Shipyard hereby responds to the media release issued by the U.S. Department of Occupational Safety and Health (OSHA) on August 2, 2013. Guam Shipyard disputes any suggestion or implication that any of its employees are exposed to an unsafe work environment. A shipyard operation requires the performance of tasks by employees that are potentially dangerous, however, in the past 15 years of operation, no incident has ever occurred resulting in the serious injury of an employee.
Guam Shipyard tracks all workplace injuries that occur and submits a form to OSHA reporting all injuries, on an annual basis. Based upon this data, Guam Shipyard has maintained an excellent safety record.
In late February through early March 2013, inspectors from OSHA visited the premises of the Guam Shipyard. After an extensive inspection spanning approximately one week to include air- monitoring and general inspection of shipyard operations, OSHA inspectors identified a number of issues concerning worksite safety and Guam Shipyard immediately took action to remediate as many items as possible. Since that inspection several months ago, Guam Shipyard has continued a proactive approach to address the various safety issues noted by OSHA and to adopt procedures to prevent the recurrence of any violations.
Guam Shipyard looks forward to working with OSHA in ensuring that its employees are provided a secure and safe work environment and to implement appropriate measures assuring future compliance with all work place safety regulations.