Another thread brought up a question for those in the law profession in our industry. I remember back in school learning that OSHA only had jurisdiction on ships when they were “on the blocks in a shipyard” and otherwise USCG was the authority for safety aboard vessels.
I’m feeling like my understanding may be flawed and I’m hoping someone with more experience (and preferably a JD) can shed some light on this for me.
That’s the same thing I remember being taught. I think the answer is likely here and the authority is strictly as it relates to whistleblower statutes, the SPA being one of many:
OSHA’s Whistleblower Protection Program enforces the whistleblower provisions of more than 20 whistleblower statutes protecting employees from retaliation for reporting violations of various workplace safety and health, airline, commercial motor carrier, consumer product, environmental, financial reform, food safety, health insurance reform, motor vehicle safety, nuclear, pipeline, public transportation agency, railroad, maritime, securities, tax, antitrust, and anti-money laundering laws and for engaging in other related protected activities.
If I owned a shipping company or any company I would not worry about OSHA except how their citations might affect my insurance rate. OSHA’s fines are so low they could be taken out of petty cash and they have no ability to make any meaningful change in the workplace. They are a toothless tiger.
As I recall the USCG and OSHA have an MOU that OSHA can regulate anything the USCG does not.
That’s why we have this ridiculous OSHA fall protection gear designed for construction sites a few minutes from 911 rescue services instead of the more appropriate harnesses like ocean racing sailors use.
Companies stupidly think they can hid behind “but it’s OSHA approved.”
The question posed above appears to be focused on shipyards, so I’ll confine my response to that subject… As it was even before the OSH Act was signed into law (pre 1971, in the era wherein the Labor Standards Bureau still had jurisdiction over the occupational safety of all workers covered under the protections of the Longshoremen’s & Harborworker’s Compensation Act), the U.S. Department of Labor and the U.S. Coast Guard have shared a concurrent jurisdiction aboard vessels being constructed or repaired at U.S. shipyards. To get a better sense of what OSHA safety & health standards have application to civilian workers employed at U.S. shipyards, here’s a link: https://www.osha.gov/laws-regs/regulations/standardnumber/1915