|Problems Associated With Applying OSHA Standard 29 CFR 1915 vs. 29 CFR 1910 to the Recreational Boat building Industry
What is the issue?
OSHA has been conducting 29 CFR 1915 (ship building safety standards) inspections at recreational boat building plants that are adjacent to navigable water. Shipbuilding is classified under SIC code 3731, while boat building is classified under SIC code 3732. NMMA’s position is that because the recreational boat building industry was never consulted during the rulemaking process, and the 1915 requirements do not appropriately address the safety issues and processes at boat plants, OSHA never intended to cover recreational boat builders under the ship building standards.
Recreational boat building processes
The LWDII rate for recreational boat building is less than half the rate of shipbuilding. Recreational boat building is a repeatable, production line process performed in a manufacturing plant specifically designed for the type of boats being built. The average recreational boat plant manufactures 30 – 35 boats per day with an average size between 18 and 20 ft. Although recreational boats can be much larger or smaller, the manufacturing process is typically similar. The majority of recreational boats are constructed of fiberglass reinforced plastic, although some boat builders manufacture small boats made out of aluminum.
With fiberglass boat building, the typical production line consists of the gel coat and lamination area, where the hull, deck, and associated small parts are made. The parts then move forward to the assembly area for the installation of the carpet, and components such as the engine, fuel tank, electrical system etc.
The typical aluminum production line consists of cutting and bending of aluminum sheets into the proper size and shape pieces; either welding or riveting the aluminum pieces together; then moving on to painting, and then the installation of components.
Safety Issues at recreational boat plants vs. shipbuilding
Recreational boat building is similar to operating a wood working shop. Shipbuilding is similar to large building construction. Hazards associated with shipbuilding include fall hazards, welding and cutting, and assembly and painting performed at great heights and over water. During a shipbuilding welding project, the welder may be required to enter a confined compartment in the bottom of a ship that could have previously held chemical, grain, or fuel. The hazards associated with working in such an area would never be found in recreational boat building. Another specific shipbuilding hazard would be the case of assembly, painting, and welding where the worker is suspended 40 to 50 feet over water to work on the hull or deck of ship. These extremely hazardous conditions are not found in boat building. Even in cases where scaffolding may be used, it is stationary, it is not over water, and the height is considerably less.
NMMA has joined OSHA on several occasions to offer boat builders safety workshops. During these workshops, OSHA representatives never mentioned that recreational boat builders were required to comply with 29 CFR 1915. In addition, NMMA, or to our knowledge any boat builders or boat builder associations, were never invited to participate in the development of 29 CFR 1915 ship building safety standards. OSHA did invite shipbuilding groups such as SESAC and MACOSH and they provided strong representation. For these reasons, NMMA is requesting that OSHA provide guidance stating that recreational boat building SIC code 3732 be covered under 29 CFR 1910, not 29 CFR 1915, regardless of location. A “Recreational boat means a vessel being manufactured or operated primarily for pleasure, or being leased, rented or chartered to another for the latter’s pleasure”. This definition is consistent with 46 U.S.C 2101(25) and definitions that have been used to differentiate commercial ships from recreational boats in the EPA commercial diesel engine regulation.