Regulations (Preambles to Final Rules) - Table of Contents
• Record Type: Longshoring and Marine Terminals
• Section: 1
• Title: Section 1 - I. Background

I. Background

Because of the high number and serious nature of accidents occurring to port employees in the United States, Congress, in 1958, amended the Longshore and Harbor Workers' Compensation Act (LHWCA) (33 U.S.C. 901 et seq.) to provide a large segment of port-based employees with a safer work environment. The amendments (Pub. L. 85-742, 72 Stat. 835) significantly strengthened section 41 of the LHWCA (33 U.S.C. 941) by requiring employers covered by that Act to "furnish, maintain and use" equipment, and to establish safe working conditions, in accordance with regulations promulgated by the Secretary of Labor. Two years later, in 1960, the Labor Standards Bureau (LSB) of the Department of Labor issued the first set of safety and health regulations for longshoring activities as 29 CFR part 9 (25 FR 1565). LSB amended these standards several times between 1960 and 1971. Since 1971, there have been no substantive changes to these provisions.

The Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 (the Act) (29 U.S.C. 650 et seq.), which established the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), granted the Secretary of Labor the authority for two years to adopt, under section 6(a) of the Act, "any established Federal standard" as an OSHA standard. OSHA adopted the Longshoring Standard, then codified as 29 CFR part 1504, under section 6(a) in 1971, and recodified the standard as 29 CFR part 1918.

The longshoring industry has changed dramatically since 1971. The methods of cargo handling and the equipment associated with those methods have undergone significant modification. Vessels designed specifically for the carriage of intermodal containers, vehicular rolling stock, and even barges, are now the most common types of ships calling at U.S. ports. By contrast, the existing Longshoring Standard was designed largely for activities using methods and equipment that have since been overshadowed or replaced by more modern methods of cargo handling. The final rule will modernize OSHA's regulatory approach to deal with these changes in the industry. However, because some older, more conventional vessel types, equipped with features and aspects addressed in the existing standard, continue to call at U.S. ports, the Agency will retain in this final rule several provisions whose utility, although diminished, continues on a more limited scale.

On July 5, 1983, OSHA published its final rule for Marine Terminals (48 FR 30886) (Ex. 1-101). OSHA issued the Marine Terminals rule to address the shoreside segment of marine cargo handling operations. Since the Marine Terminals Standard currently addresses equipment and situations (i.e., powered industrial trucks, conveyors, passage between levels and across openings, etc.) that have shipboard counterparts, appropriate provisions from the Marine Terminals Standard were incorporated into this rulemaking for shipboard cargo handling as well. Accordingly, the Agency relied upon background material and data used to support OSHA's Marine Terminals Standard and incorporated the docket (Docket No. S-506) developed in that rulemaking into the record of this rulemaking.

OSHA published a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) for Longshoring and Marine Terminals on June 2, 1994 (59 FR 28594). As part of the NPRM, OSHA announced three public hearings to be held in Charleston, SC on September 20, 1994; Seattle, WA on October 19, 1994; and in New Orleans, LA on November 15, 1994. Later, OSHA published a notice of correction changing the dates of the hearings and announcing the specific hearing sites. Hearings were held October 4-6, 1994 in Charleston, SC; October 19-21, 1994 in Seattle, WA; and November 15-17, 1994 in New Orleans, LA. Administrative Law Judge Stuart A. Levin presided at the hearings. After receipt of all evidence and testimony, the record was closed on May 15, 1995.

This final rule will provide continuity for the cargo handling industry because it addresses both the more conventional and time-proven methods of cargo handling and more modern and innovative approaches. In keeping with OSHA's commitment to clarity, flexibility, and in order to encourage employers to comply with these standards, OSHA has adopted the performance approach except in those cases in which employee safety would be enhanced by more specific requirements.

Longshoring Hazards

Traditionally, the longshore industry, which is classified within Standard Industrial Classification (SIC) 449, has been notable in terms of its accident experience. The work environment found in marine cargo handling exposes employees to a greater risk of injury than is true for most other industries. In fact, in 1993, the last calendar year for which full tables of industrial illnesses and accidents are currently available, this industrial