Traylor/Skanska/Jay Dee Joint Venture; Application for Permanent Variance and Interim Order; Grant of Interim Order; Request for Comments, 73631-73641 [2014-28994]

Download as PDF Federal Register / Vol. 79, No. 238 / Thursday, December 11, 2014 / Notices comments received in response to this notice, the Department intends to submit an ICR to OMB for continuing approval. No change to the existing ICR is proposed or made at this time. The Department notes that an agency may not conduct or sponsor, and a person is not required to respond to, an information collection unless it displays a valid OMB control number. A summary of the ICR and the current burden estimates follows: Agency: Employee Benefits Security Administration, Department of Labor. Title: Coverage of Certain Preventive Services Under the Affordable Care Act. Type of Review: Revision of a currently approved collection of information. OMB Number: 1210–0150. Affected Public: Business or other forprofit; Not-for-profit institutions. Respondents: 61. Frequency of Responses: Once. Responses: 61. Estimated Total Burden Hours: 51. mstockstill on DSK4VPTVN1PROD with NOTICES III. Desired Focus of Comments The Department of Labor (Department) is particularly interested in comments that: • Evaluate whether the proposed collection of information is necessary for the proper performance of the functions of the agency, including whether the information will have practical utility; • Evaluate the accuracy of the agency’s estimate of the burden of the proposed collection of information, including the validity of the methodology and assumptions used; • Enhance the quality, utility, and clarity of the information to be collected; and • Minimize the burden of the collection of information on those who are to respond, including through the use of appropriate automated, electronic, mechanical, or other technological collection techniques or other forms of information technology, e.g., by permitting electronic submissions of responses. Comments submitted in response to this notice will be summarized and/or included in the ICR for OMB approval of the extension of the information collection; they will also become a matter of public record. Dated: December 5, 2014. Phyllis C. Borzi, Assistant Secretary, Employee Benefits Security Administration. [FR Doc. 2014–29060 Filed 12–10–14; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4510–29–P VerDate Sep<11>2014 19:07 Dec 10, 2014 Jkt 235001 DEPARTMENT OF LABOR Occupational Safety and Health Administration [Docket No. OSHA–2012–0035] Traylor/Skanska/Jay Dee Joint Venture; Application for Permanent Variance and Interim Order; Grant of Interim Order; Request for Comments Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), Labor. ACTION: Notice. AGENCY: In this notice, OSHA announces the application of Traylor/ Skanska/Jay Dee Joint Venture (collectively ‘‘Traylor JV’’ or ‘‘the applicant’’) for a permanent variance and interim order from the provisions of OSHA standards that regulate work in compressed air environments and presents the Agency’s preliminary finding to grant the permanent variance. OSHA invites the public to submit comments on the variance application to assist the Agency in determining whether to grant the applicant a permanent variance based on the conditions specified in this application. DATES: Submit comments, information, documents in response to this notice, and request for a hearing on or before January 12, 2015. The interim order described in this notice became effective on July 11, 2013, and shall remain in effect until the completion of the Blue Plains tunnel project or the interim order is modified or revoked. ADDRESSES: Submit comments by any of the following methods: 1. Electronically: Submit comments and attachments electronically at http:// www.regulations.gov, which is the Federal eRulemaking Portal. Follow the instructions online for making electronic submissions. 2. Facsimile: If submissions, including attachments, are not longer than 10 pages, commenters may fax them to the OSHA Docket Office at (202) 693–1648. 3. Regular or express mail, hand delivery, or messenger (courier) service: Submit comments, requests, and any attachments to the OSHA Docket Office, Docket No. OSHA–2012–0035, Technical Data Center, U.S. Department of Labor, 200 Constitution Avenue NW., Room N–2625, Washington, DC 20210; telephone: (202) 693–2350 (TTY number: (877) 889–5627). Note that security procedures may result in significant delays in receiving comments and other written materials by regular mail. Contact the OSHA Docket Office for information about SUMMARY: PO 00000 Frm 00090 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 73631 security procedures concerning delivery of materials by express delivery, hand delivery, or messenger service. The hours of operation for the OSHA Docket Office are 8:15 a.m.–4:45 p.m., e.t. 4. Instructions: All submissions must include the Agency name and the OSHA docket number (OSHA–2012–0035). OSHA places comments and other materials, including any personal information, in the public docket without revision, and these materials will be available online at http:// www.regulations.gov. Therefore, the Agency cautions commenters about submitting statements they do not want made available to the public, or submitting comments that contain personal information (either about themselves or others) such as Social Security numbers, birth dates, and medical data. 5. Docket: To read or download submissions or other material in the docket, go to http://www.regulations.gov or the OSHA Docket Office at the address above. All documents in the docket are listed in the http:// www.regulations.gov index; however, some information (e.g., copyrighted material) is not publicly available to read or download through the Web site. All submissions, including copyrighted material, are available for inspection and copying at the OSHA Docket Office. Contact the OSHA Docket Office for assistance in locating docket submissions. 6. Extension of comment period: Submit requests for an extension of the comment period on or before January 12, 2015 to the Office of Technical Programs and Coordination Activities, Directorate of Technical Support and Emergency Management, Occupational Safety and Health Administration, U.S. Department of Labor, 200 Constitution Avenue NW., Room N–3655, Washington, DC 20210, or by fax to (202) 693–1644. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Information regarding this notice is available from the following sources: Press inquiries: Contact Mr. Frank Meilinger, Director, OSHA Office of Communications, U.S. Department of Labor, 200 Constitution Avenue NW., Room N–3647, Washington, DC 20210; telephone: (202) 693–1999; email: Meilinger.francis2@dol.gov. General and technical information: Contact Mr. David W. Johnson, Director, Office of Technical Programs and Coordination Activities, Directorate of Technical Support and Emergency Management, Occupational Safety and Health Administration, U.S. Department of Labor, 200 Constitution Avenue NW., E:\FR\FM\11DEN1.SGM 11DEN1 73632 Federal Register / Vol. 79, No. 238 / Thursday, December 11, 2014 / Notices mstockstill on DSK4VPTVN1PROD with NOTICES Room N–3655, Washington, DC 20210; phone: (202) 693–2110 or email: johnson.david.w@dol.gov. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Copies of this Federal Register notice. Electronic copies of this Federal Register notice are available at http:// www.regulations.gov. This Federal Register notice, as well as news releases and other relevant information, also are available at OSHA’s Web page at http:// www.osha.gov. Hearing Requests. According to 29 CFR 1905.15, hearing requests must include: (1) A short and plain statement detailing how the proposed variance would affect the requesting party; (2) a specification of any statement or representation in the variance application that the commenter denies, and a concise summary of the evidence adduced in support of each denial; and (3) any views or arguments on any issue of fact or law presented in the variance application. I. Notice of Application On April 26, 2012, Traylor Bros., Inc., 835 N. Congress Ave., Evansville, IN 47715, and Traylor/Skanska/Jay Dee Joint Venture, Blue Plains Tunnel, 5000 Overlook SW., Washington, DC 20032, submitted under Section 6(d) of the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 (‘‘OSH Act’’; 29 U.S.C. 655) and 29 CFR 1905.11 (‘‘Variances and other relief under section 6(d)’’) an application for a permanent variance from several provisions of the OSHA standard that regulates work in compressed air at 29 CFR 1926.803. OSHA is addressing this request as two separate applications: (1) Traylor Bros., Inc. (‘‘Traylor’’) request for a permanent variance for future tunneling projects; and (2) Traylor/Skanska/Jay Dee Joint Venture, Blue Plains Tunnel (‘‘Traylor JV’’ or ‘‘the applicant’’). This notice only addresses the Traylor JV application for an interim order and permanent variance for the Blue Plains project.1 This notice does not address the Traylor application for a permanent variance for future projects. That request will be addressed separately. Traylor JV also requested an interim order pending OSHA’s decision on the application for a variance (Ex. OSHA– 2012–0035–0002). Specifically, this notice addresses the application submitted by Traylor JV (for the Blue Plains Tunnel project) in which the applicant seeks a permanent variance and interim order from the provisions of the standard that: (1) Prohibit compressed-air worker exposure to 1 See Section III discussion of proposed condition A Scope. VerDate Sep<11>2014 19:07 Dec 10, 2014 Jkt 235001 pressures exceeding 50 pounds per square inch (p.s.i.) except in an emergency (29 CFR 1926.803(e)(5)); 2 (2) require the use of the decompression values specified in decompression tables in Appendix A of the compressed-air standard for construction (29 CFR 1926.803(f)(1)); and (3) require the use of automated operational controls and a special decompression chamber (29 CFR 1926.803(g)(1)(iii) and .803(g)(1)(xvii), respectively). The applicant is a contractor that works on complex tunnel projects using recently developed equipment and procedures for soft-ground tunneling. The applicant’s workers engage in the construction of tunnels using advanced shielded mechanical excavation techniques in conjunction with an earth pressure balanced tunnel boring machine (EPBTBM). According to its application, Traylor is currently the managing partner of Traylor/Skanska/Jay Dee Joint Venture (‘‘Traylor JV’’), the general contractor for the DC Water and Sewer Authority’s project to construct the Blue Plains tunnel. Traylor JV asserts that generally, it bores tunnels (i.e., Blue Plains tunnel) below the water table through soft soils consisting of clay, silt, and sand. Traylor JV employs specially trained personnel for the construction of the tunnel, and states that this construction will use shielded mechanical-excavation techniques. Traylor JV asserts that its workers perform hyperbaric interventions at pressures greater than 50 p.s.i.g. in the excavation chamber of the EPBTBM; these interventions consist of conducting inspections and maintenance work on the cutter-head structure and cutting tools of the EPBTBM. Traylor JV asserts that innovations in tunnel excavation, specifically with EPBTBMs, have, in most cases, eliminated the need to pressurize the entire tunnel. This technology negates the requirement that all members of a tunnel-excavation crew work in compressed air while excavating the tunnel. These advances in technology modified substantially the methods used by the construction industry to excavate subaqueous tunnels compared to the caisson work regulated by the current OSHA compressed-air standard for construction at 29 CFR 1926.803. 2 The decompression tables in Appendix A of subpart S express the maximum working pressures as pounds per square inch gauge (p.s.i.g.), with a maximum working pressure of 50 p.s.i.g. Therefore, throughout this notice, OSHA expresses the 50 p.s.i. value specified by § 1926.803(e)(5) as 50 p.s.i.g., consistent with the terminology in Appendix A, Table 1 of subpart S. PO 00000 Frm 00091 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 Such advances reduce the number of workers exposed, and the total duration of exposure, to hyperbaric pressure during tunnel construction. Using shielded mechanicalexcavation techniques, in conjunction with precast concrete tunnel liners and backfill grout, EPBTBMs provide methods to achieve the face pressures required to maintain a stabilized tunnel face through various geologies, and isolate that pressure to the forward section (the working chamber) of the EPBTBM. Interventions in the working chamber (the pressurized portion of the EPBTBM) take place only after halting tunnel excavation and preparing the machine and crew for an intervention. Interventions occur to inspect or maintain the mechanical-excavation components located in the working chamber. Maintenance conducted in the working chamber includes changing replaceable cutting tools and disposable wear bars, and, in rare cases, repairing structural damage to the cutter head. In addition to innovations in tunnelexcavation methods, Traylor JV asserts that innovations in hyperbaric medicine and technology improve the safety of decompression from hyperbaric exposures. According to Traylor JV, the use of decompression protocols incorporating oxygen is at least as effective for tunnel workers as compliance with the decompression tables specified by the existing OSHA standard (29 CFR 1926, subpart S, Appendix A decompression tables). These hyperbaric exposures are possible due to advances in technology, a better understanding of hyperbaric medicine, and the development of a projectspecific Hyperbaric Operations Manual (HOM) that requires specialized medical support and hyperbaric supervision to provide assistance to a team of specially trained man-lock attendants and hyperbaric or compressed-air workers. OSHA initiated a technical review of the Traylor JV’s variance application and developed a set of follow-up questions that it sent to Traylor JV on September 17, 2012 (Ex. OSHA–2012– 0035–0010). On October 26, 2012, Traylor JV submitted its response and a request for an interim order for the Blue Plains Tunnel Project (Ex. OSHA–2012– 0035–0008). In its response to OSHA’s follow-up questions, Traylor JV indicated that the maximum pressure to which it is likely to expose workers during interventions for the Blue Plains tunnel project is 52 p.s.i.g. and would not involve the use of trimix breathing gas (composed of a mixture of oxygen, nitrogen, and helium in varying concentrations used for breathing by compressed air workers for compression E:\FR\FM\11DEN1.SGM 11DEN1 Federal Register / Vol. 79, No. 238 / Thursday, December 11, 2014 / Notices and decompression when working at pressures exceeding 73 p.s.i.g.). Therefore, to work effectively on this project, Traylor JV must perform hyperbaric interventions in compressed air at pressures higher than the maximum pressure specified by the existing OSHA standard, 29 CFR 1926.803(e)(5), which states: ‘‘No employee shall be subjected to pressure exceeding 50 p.s.i.g. except in emergency’’ (see footnote 2). OSHA considered Traylor JV’s application for a permanent variance and interim order for the Blue Plains tunnel project. OSHA determined that Traylor JV proposed an alternative that will provide a workplace as safe and healthful as that provided by the standard. On July 11, 2013, OSHA granted Traylor JV a project-specific interim order for the completion of the Blue Plains tunnel (Ex. OSHA–2012– 0035–0007) in order to permit the applicant to begin work while OSHA continued to consider its application for a permanent variance. mstockstill on DSK4VPTVN1PROD with NOTICES II. The Variance Application A. Background Traylor JV asserts that the advances in tunnel excavation technology described in Section I of this notice modified significantly the equipment and methods used by contractors to construct subaqueous tunnels, thereby making several provisions of OSHA’s compressed-air standard for construction at 29 CFR 1926.803 inappropriate for this type of work. These advances reduce both the number of workers exposed, and the total duration of exposure, to the hyperbaric conditions associated with tunnel construction. Using shielded mechanicalexcavation techniques, in conjunction with pre-cast concrete tunnel liners and backfill grout, EPBTBMs provide methods to achieve the face pressures required to maintain a stabilized tunnel face, through various geologies, while isolating that pressure to the forward section (working or excavation chamber) of the EPBTBM. Interventions involving the working chamber (the pressurized chamber at the head of the EPBTBM) take place only after the applicant halts tunnel excavation and prepares the machine and crew for an intervention. Interventions occur to inspect or maintain the mechanical-excavation components located in the forward portion of the working chamber. Maintenance conducted in the forward portion of the working chamber includes changing replaceable cutting VerDate Sep<11>2014 19:07 Dec 10, 2014 Jkt 235001 tools, disposable wear bars, and, in rare cases, repairs to the cutter head due to structural damage. In addition to innovations in tunnelexcavation methods, research conducted after OSHA published its compressedair standard for construction in 1971, resulted in advances in hyperbaric medicine. In this regard, the applicant asserts that the use of decompression protocols incorporating oxygen is more efficient, effective, and safer for tunnel workers than compliance with the existing OSHA standard (29 CFR 1926, subpart S, Appendix A decompression tables). According to the applicant, contractors routinely and safely expose employees performing interventions in the working chamber of EPBTBMs to hyperbaric pressures up to 75 p.s.i.g., which is 50% higher than maximum pressure specified by the existing OSHA standard (see 29 CFR 1926.803(e)(5)). The applicant contends that the alternative safety measures included in its application provide its workers with a place of employment that is at least as safe and healthful as they would obtain under the existing provisions of OSHA’s compressed-air standard for construction. The applicant certifies that it provided employee representatives of affected workers with a copy of the variance application.3 The applicant also certifies that it notified its workers of the variance application by posting, at prominent locations where it normally posts workplace notices, a summary of the application and information specifying where the workers can examine a copy of the application. In addition, the applicant informed its workers and their representatives of their rights to petition the Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health for a hearing on the variance application. B. Variance From Paragraph (e)(5) of 29 CFR 1926.803, Prohibition of Exposure to Pressure Greater Than 50 p.s.i.g. (See Footnote 1) The applicant states that it may perform hyperbaric interventions at pressures greater than 50 p.s.i.g. in the working chamber of the EPBTBM; this pressure exceeds the pressure limit of 50 p.s.i.g. specified for nonemergency purposes by 29 CFR 1926.803(e)(5). The EPBTBM has twin man locks, with each man lock having two compartments. This configuration allows workers to access the man locks for compression and decompression, and medical personnel to access the man locks if required in an emergency. 3 See the definition of ‘‘Affected employee or worker’’ in section V.D. PO 00000 Frm 00092 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 73633 EPBTBMs are capable of maintaining pressure at the tunnel face, and stabilizing existing geological conditions, through the controlled use of propel cylinders, a mechanically driven cutter head, bulkheads within the shield, ground-treatment foam, and a screw conveyor that moves excavated material from the working chamber. As noted earlier, the forward-most portion of the EPBTBM is the working chamber, and this chamber is the only pressurized segment of the EPBTBM. Within the shield, the working chamber consists of two sections: The staging chamber and the forward working chamber. The staging chamber is the section of the working chamber between the man-lock door and the entry door to the forward working chamber. The forward working chamber is immediately behind the cutter head and tunnel face. The applicant will pressurize the working chamber to the level required to maintain a stable tunnel face. Pressure in the staging chamber ranges from atmospheric (no increased pressure) to a maximum pressure equal to the pressure in the working chamber. The applicant asserts that most of the hyperbaric interventions will be around 14.7 p.s.i.g. However, the applicant maintains that they may have to perform interventions at pressures up to 52 p.s.i.g. During interventions, workers enter the working chamber through one of the twin man locks that open into the staging chamber. To reach the forward part of the working chamber, workers pass through a door in a bulkhead that separates the staging chamber from the forward working chamber. The maximum crew size allowed in the forward working chamber is three. At certain hyperbaric pressures (i.e., when decompression times are greater than work times), the twin man locks allow for crew rotation. During crew rotation, one crew can be compressing or decompressing while the second crew is working. Therefore, the working crew always has an unoccupied man lock at its disposal. The applicant developed a projectspecific HOM for the Blue Plains tunnel (Ex. OSHA–2012–0035–0003) that describes in detail the hyperbaric procedures and required medical examinations used during the tunnelconstruction project. The HOM discusses standard operating procedures and emergency and contingency procedures. The procedures include using experienced and knowledgeable man-lock attendants who have the training and experience necessary to recognize and treat decompression illnesses and injuries. The attendants E:\FR\FM\11DEN1.SGM 11DEN1 73634 Federal Register / Vol. 79, No. 238 / Thursday, December 11, 2014 / Notices mstockstill on DSK4VPTVN1PROD with NOTICES are under the direct supervision of the hyperbaric supervisor and attending physician. In addition, procedures include medical screening and review of prospective compressed-air workers (CAWs). The purpose of this screening procedure is to vet prospective CAWs with medical conditions (e.g., deep vein thrombosis, poor vascular circulation, and muscle cramping) that could be aggravated by sitting in a cramped space (e.g., a man lock) for extended periods or by exposure to elevated pressures and compressed gas mixtures. A transportable recompression chamber (shuttle) is available to extract workers from the hyperbaric working chamber for emergency evacuation and medical treatment; the shuttle attaches to the topside medical lock, which is a large recompression chamber. The applicant believes that the procedures included in the HOM provide safe work conditions when interventions are necessary, including interventions above 50 p.s.i.g. C. Variance From Paragraph (f)(1) of 29 CFR 1926.803, Requirement To Use OSHA Decompression Tables OSHA’s compressed-air standard for construction requires decompression in accordance with the decompression tables in Appendix A of 29 CFR 1926, subpart S (see 29 CFR 1926.803(f)(1)). As an alternative to the OSHA decompression tables, the applicant proposes to use newer decompression schedules that supplement breathing air used during decompression with pure oxygen. The applicant asserts that these decompression protocols are safer for tunnel workers than the decompression protocols specified in Appendix A of 29 CFR 1926, subpart S. Accordingly, the applicant proposes to use the 1992 French Decompression Tables to decompress CAWs after they exit the hyperbaric conditions in the working chamber. Depending on the maximum working pressure and exposure times, the 1992 French Decompression Tables provide for air decompression with or without oxygen. Traylor JV asserts that oxygen decompression has many benefits, including (1) keeping the partial pressure of nitrogen in the lungs as low as possible; (2) keeping external pressure as low as possible to reduce the formation of bubbles in the blood; (3) removing nitrogen from the lungs and arterial blood and increasing the rate of elimination of nitrogen; (4) improving the quality of breathing during decompression stops so that workers are less tired and to prevent bone necrosis; (5) reducing decompression time by about 33 percent as compared to air decompression; and (6) reducing VerDate Sep<11>2014 19:07 Dec 10, 2014 Jkt 235001 inflammation. As described in Section IV of this notice, OSHA’s review of the use of oxygen in several major tunneling projects completed in the past indicates that it contributed significantly to the reduction of decompression illness (DCI) and other associated adverse effects observed and reported among CAWs. In addition, the HOM requires a physician certified in hyperbaric medicine to manage the medical condition of CAWs during hyperbaric exposures and decompression. A trained and experienced man-lock attendant also will be present during hyperbaric exposures and decompression. This man-lock attendant will operate the hyperbaric system to ensure compliance with the specified decompression table. A hyperbaric supervisor (competent person), trained in hyperbaric operations, procedures, and safety, directly oversees all hyperbaric interventions, and ensures that staff follow the procedures delineated in the HOM or by the attending physician. The applicant asserts that at higher hyperbaric pressures, decompression times exceed 75 minutes. The HOM establishes protocols and procedures that provide the basis for alternate means of protection for CAWs under these conditions. Accordingly, based on these protocols and procedures, the applicant requests to use the 1992 French Decompression Tables for hyperbaric interventions up to 52 p.s.i.g. for completion of the Blue Plains tunnel project. The applicant is committed to follow the decompression procedures described in the Blue Plains tunnel project-specific HOM during these interventions. D. Variance From Paragraph (g)(1)(iii) of 29 CFR 1926.803, Automatically Regulated Continuous Decompression According to the applicant, breathing air under hyperbaric conditions increases the amount of nitrogen gas dissolved in a CAW’s tissues. The greater the hyperbaric pressure under these conditions, and the more time spent under the increased pressure, the greater the amount of nitrogen gas dissolved in the tissues. When the pressure decreases during decompression, tissues release the dissolved nitrogen gas into the blood system, which then carries the nitrogen gas to the lungs for elimination through exhalation. Releasing hyperbaric pressure too rapidly during decompression can increase the size of the bubbles formed by nitrogen gas in the blood system, resulting in DCI, commonly referred to as ‘‘the bends.’’ PO 00000 Frm 00093 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 This description of the etiology of DCI is consistent with current scientific theory and research on the issue (see footnote 12 in this notice discussing a 1985 NIOSH report on DCI). The 1992 French Decompression Tables proposed for use by the applicant provide for stops during worker decompression (i.e., staged decompression) to control the release of nitrogen gas from tissues into the blood system. Studies show that staged decompression, in combination with other features of the 1992 French Decompression Tables such as the use of oxygen, result in a lower incidence of DCI than the OSHA decompression requirements of 29 CFR 1926.803, which specify the use of automatically regulated continuous decompression (see footnotes 9 through 14 in this notice for references to these studies).4 In addition, the applicant asserts that staged decompression is at least as effective as an automatic controller in regulating the decompression process because: 1. A hyperbaric supervisor (a competent person experienced and trained in hyperbaric operations, procedures, and safety) directly supervises all hyperbaric interventions and ensures that the man-lock attendant, who is a competent person in the manual control of hyperbaric systems, follows the schedule specified in the decompression tables, including stops; and 2. The use of the 1992 French Decompression Tables for staged decompression offers an equal or better level of management and control over the decompression process than an automatic controller and results in lower occurrences of DCI. 4 In the study cited in footnote 10, starting at page 338, Dr. Eric Kindwall notes that the use of automatically regulated continuous decompression in the Washington State safety standards for compressed-air work (from which OSHA derived its decompression tables) was at the insistence of contractors and the union, and against the advice of the expert who calculated the decompression table and recommended using staged decompression. Dr. Kindwall then states, ‘‘Continuous decompression is inefficient and wasteful. For example, if the last stage from 4 psig . . . to the surface took 1 h, at least half the time is spent at pressures less than 2 psig . . ., which provides less and less meaningful bubble suppression. . . .’’ In addition, the report referenced in footnote 5 under the section titled, ‘‘Background on the Need for Interim Decompression Tables’’ addresses the continuousdecompression protocol in the OSHA compressedair standard for construction, noting that ‘‘[a]side from the tables for saturation diving to deep depths, no other widely used or officially approved diving decompression tables use straight line, continuous decompressions at varying rates. Stage decompression is usually the rule, since it is simpler to control.’’ E:\FR\FM\11DEN1.SGM 11DEN1 Federal Register / Vol. 79, No. 238 / Thursday, December 11, 2014 / Notices Accordingly, the applicant is applying for a permanent variance from the OSHA standard at 29 CFR 1926.803(g)(1)(iii), which requires automatic controls to regulate decompression. As noted above, the applicant is committed to conduct the staged decompression according to the 1992 French Decompression Tables under the direct control of the trained man-lock attendant and under the oversight of the hyperbaric supervisor. E. Variance From Paragraph (g)(1)(xvii) of 29 CFR 1926.803, Requirement of Special Decompression Chamber The OSHA compressed-air standard for construction requires employers to use a special decompression chamber when total decompression time exceeds 75 minutes (see 29 CFR 1926.803(g)(1)(xvii)). Another provision of OSHA’s compressed-air standard calls for locating the special decompression chamber adjacent to the man lock on the atmospheric pressure side of the tunnel bulkhead (see 29 CFR 1926.803(g)(2)(vii)). However, since only the working chamber of the EPBTBM is under pressure, and only a few workers out of the entire crew are exposed to hyperbaric pressure, the man locks (which, as noted earlier, connect directly to the working chamber) are of sufficient size to accommodate the exposed workers. In addition, available space in the EPBTBM does not allow for an additional special decompression lock. Again, the applicant uses the man locks, each of which adequately accommodates a three-member crew, for this purpose when decompression lasts up to 75 minutes. When decompression exceeds 75 minutes, crews can open the door connecting the two compartments in each man lock during decompression stops or exit the man lock and move into the staging chamber where additional space is available. This alternative enables CAWs to move about and flex their joints to prevent neuromuscular problems during decompression. mstockstill on DSK4VPTVN1PROD with NOTICES F. Previous Tunnel Construction Variance 19:07 Dec 10, 2014 Jkt 235001 G. Multi-State Variance As stated earlier in this notice, Traylor JV applied for an interim order for its Blue Plains Tunnel project only. On July 11, 2013, OSHA granted an interim order to cover only the Blue Plains tunnel project, which is located entirely in the District of Columbia and thus under Federal OSHA’s exclusive jurisdiction. Additionally, twenty-seven state safety and health plans have been approved by OSHA under section 18 of the (OSH) Act.5 As part of the permanent variance process, the Directorate of Cooperative and State Programs will notify the State Plans of Traylor JV’s variance application and grant of the Blue Plains interim order. In considering Traylor JV’s application for a permanent variance and interim order, OSHA noted that four states have previously granted sub-aqueous tunnel construction variances and imposed different or additional requirements and conditions (California, Nevada, Oregon, and Washington). California also promulgated a new standard (e.g., California 6) for similar sub-aqueous tunnel construction work. Five State Plans (Connecticut, Illinois, New Jersey, New York, and the Virgin Islands) cover only public-sector workers and have no authority over the private-sector workers addressed in this variance application (i.e., that authority continues to reside with Federal OSHA). III. Description of the Conditions Specified by the Application for a Permanent Variance As indicated in Section I of this notice, on July 11, 2013, OSHA granted Traylor JV a project specific interim order for the completion of the Blue Plains tunnel in order to permit the applicant to begin work. The projectspecific interim order is to remain in effect until completion of the Blue Plains tunnel project 7 or until the Agency modifies or revokes the interim order or makes a decision on Traylor 5 Five OSHA notes that on May 23, 2014, it granted a sub-aqueous tunnel construction permanent variance to Tully/OHL USA Joint Venture (79 FR 29809) from the same provisions of the standard that regulates work in compressed air (at 29 CFR 1926.803(e)(5), (f)(1), (g)(1)(iii), and (g)(1)(xvii)) that are the subject of the present application. Generally, the proposed alternate conditions in this notice are based on and very similar to VerDate Sep<11>2014 the alternate conditions of the previous permanent variance. State Plans (Connecticut, Illinois, New Jersey, New York, and the Virgin Islands) limit their occupational safety and health authority to state and local employers only. State Plans that exercise their occupational safety and health authority over both public- and private-sector employers are: Alaska, Arizona, California, Hawaii, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New Mexico, North Carolina, Oregon, Puerto Rico, South Carolina, Tennessee, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, and Wyoming. 6 See California Code of Regulations, Title 8, Subchapter 7, Group 26, Article 154, available at http://www.dir.ca.gov/title8/sb7g26a154.html. 7 The contractual completion date of the Blue Plains tunnel is November 10, 2015. PO 00000 Frm 00094 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 73635 JV’s application for a permanent variance. The substantive terms of the interim order are identical to the terms of the proposed permanent variance discussed further below. This section describes the alternative means of compliance with 29 CFR 1926.803(e)(5), (f)(1), (g)(1)(iii), and (g)(1)(xvii) and provides additional detail regarding the proposed conditions that form the basis of Traylor JV’s application for a permanent variance. Proposed Condition A: Scope The scope of the proposed permanent variance limits coverage to the work situations specified under this proposed condition. Clearly defining the scope of the proposed permanent variance provides Traylor JV, Traylor JV’s employees, other stakeholders, the public, and OSHA with necessary information regarding the work situations in which the proposed permanent variance would apply. According to 29 CFR 1905.11, an employer or class or group of employers 8 may request a permanent variance for a specific workplace or workplaces. If granted, the variance would apply to the specific employer(s) that submitted the application. In this instance, if OSHA were to grant a permanent variance, it would apply to the applicant, Traylor/Skanska/Jay Dee Joint Venture at the Blue Plains Tunnel project only. As a result, it is important to understand that the interim order and proposed variance does not apply to any other employers. Proposed Condition B: Application This proposed condition specifies the circumstances under which the proposed permanent variance would be in effect, notably only for hyperbaric work performed during interventions. The proposed condition places clear limits on the circumstances under which the applicant can expose its employees to hyperbaric pressure. Proposed Condition C: List of Abbreviations Proposed condition C defines a number of abbreviations used in the proposed permanent variance. OSHA believes that defining these abbreviations serves to clarify and standardize their usage, thereby enhancing the applicant’s and its employees’ understanding of the 8 A class or group of employers (such as members of a trade alliance or association) may apply jointly for a variance provided an authorized representative for each employer signs the application and the application identifies each employer’s affected facilities. E:\FR\FM\11DEN1.SGM 11DEN1 73636 Federal Register / Vol. 79, No. 238 / Thursday, December 11, 2014 / Notices conditions specified by the proposed permanent variance. Proposed Condition D: Definitions The proposed condition defines a series of terms, mostly technical terms, used in the proposed permanent variance to standardize and clarify their meaning. Defining these terms serves to enhance the applicant’s and its employees’ understanding of the conditions specified by the proposed permanent variance. mstockstill on DSK4VPTVN1PROD with NOTICES Proposed Condition E: Safety and Health Practices This proposed condition requires the applicant to develop and submit to OSHA an HOM specific to the Blue Plains project at least six months before using the EPBTBM for tunneling operations. Additionally, the proposed condition includes a series of related hazard prevention and control requirements and methods (e.g., decompression tables, job hazard analyses (JHA), operations and inspections checklists, incident investigation, recording and notification to OSHA of recordable hyperbaric injuries and illnesses, etc.) designed to ensure the continued effective functioning of the hyperbaric equipment and operating system. Review of the HOM enables OSHA to: (1) Determine that the safety and health instructions and measures it specifies would be appropriate and would adequately protect the safety and health of the CAWs; and (2) request the applicant to revise or modify the HOM if it finds that the hyperbaric safety and health procedures are not suitable for the specific project and would not adequately protect the safety and health of the CAWs. Once approved, the project specific HOM becomes part of the variance, thus enabling OSHA to enforce its safety and health procedures and measures.9 Proposed Condition F: Communication Proposed condition F would require the applicant to develop and implement an effective system of information sharing and communication. Effective information sharing and communication ensures that affected workers receive updated information regarding any safety-related hazards and incidents, and corrective actions taken, prior to the start of each shift. The proposed condition also requires the applicant to ensure that reliable means of emergency communications are available and 9 Grant of the July 11, 2013, project-specific interim order constitutes interim acknowledgement by OSHA of the acceptability of the HOM provided by Traylor JV for the Blue Plains tunnel project. VerDate Sep<11>2014 19:07 Dec 10, 2014 Jkt 235001 maintained for affected workers and support personnel during hyperbaric operations. Availability of such reliable means of communications would enable affected workers and support personnel to respond quickly and effectively to hazardous conditions or emergencies that may develop during EPBTBM operations. Proposed Condition G: Worker Qualification and Training This proposed condition would require the applicant to develop and implement an effective qualification and training program for affected workers. The proposed condition specifies the factors that an affected worker must know to perform safely during hyperbaric operations, including how to enter, work in, and exit from hyperbaric conditions under both normal and emergency conditions. Having welltrained and qualified workers performing hyperbaric intervention work ensures that they recognize, and respond appropriately to, hyperbaric safety and health hazards. These qualification and training requirements enable affected workers to cope effectively with emergencies, as well as the discomfort and physiological effects of hyperbaric exposure, thereby preventing worker injury, illness, and fatalities. Paragraph (2)(e) of this proposed condition also would require the applicant to provide affected workers with information they can use to contact the appropriate healthcare professionals if they believe they are developing hyperbaric-related health effects. This requirement provides for early intervention and treatment of DCI and other health effects resulting from hyperbaric exposure, thereby reducing the potential severity of these effects. Proposed Condition H: Inspections, Tests, and Accident Prevention Proposed condition H would require the applicant to develop, implement, and operate a program of frequent and regular inspections of the EPBTBM’s hyperbaric equipment and support systems, and associated work areas. This condition would help to ensure the safe operation and physical integrity of the equipment and work areas necessary to conduct hyperbaric operations. The condition would also enhance worker safety by reducing the risk of hyperbaric-related emergencies. Paragraph (3) of this proposed condition would require the applicant to document tests, inspections, corrective actions, and repairs involving the EPBTBM, and maintain these documents at the job site for the PO 00000 Frm 00095 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 duration of the job. This requirement would provide the applicant with information needed to schedule tests and inspections to ensure the continued safe operation of the equipment and systems, and to determine that the actions taken to correct defects in hyperbaric equipment and systems were appropriate, prior to returning them to service. Proposed Condition I: Compression and Decompression This proposed condition would require the applicant to consult with its designated medical advisor regarding special compression or decompression procedures appropriate for any unacclimated CAW. This proposed provision would ensure that the applicant consults with the medical advisor, and involves the medical advisor in the evaluation, development, and implementation of compression or decompression protocols appropriate for any CAW requiring acclimation to the hyperbaric conditions encountered during EPBTBM operations. Accordingly, CAWs requiring acclimation would have an opportunity to acclimate prior to exposure to these hyperbaric conditions. OSHA believes this condition would prevent or reduce adverse reactions among CAWs to the effects of compression or decompression associated with the intervention work they perform in the EPBTBM. Proposed Condition J: Recordkeeping Proposed condition J would require the applicant to maintain records of specific factors associated with each hyperbaric intervention. The information gathered and recorded under this provision, in concert with the information provided under proposed condition K (using the OSHA 301 Incident Report form to investigate and record hyperbaric recordable injuries as defined by 29 CFR 1904.4, 1904.7, 1904.8 through 1904.12), would enable the applicant and OSHA to determine the effectiveness of the permanent variance in preventing DCI and other hyperbaric-related effects.10 Proposed Condition K: Notifications Under this proposed condition, the applicant would be required, within specified periods to: (1) Notify OSHA of any recordable injuries, illnesses, or 10 See 29 CFR 1904 Recording and Reporting Occupational Injuries and Illnesses (http:// www.osha.gov/pls/oshaweb/owadisp.show_ document?p_table=STANDARDS&p_id=9631); recordkeeping forms and instructions (http:// www.osha.gov/recordkeeping/RKform300pkgfillable-enabled.pdf); and OSHA Recordkeeping Handbook (http://www.osha.gov/recordkeeping/ handbook/index.html). E:\FR\FM\11DEN1.SGM 11DEN1 mstockstill on DSK4VPTVN1PROD with NOTICES Federal Register / Vol. 79, No. 238 / Thursday, December 11, 2014 / Notices fatalities that occur as a result of hyperbaric exposures during EPBTBM operations; (2) provide OSHA with a copy of the incident investigation report (using OSHA 301 form) of these events; (3) include on the 301 form information on the hyperbaric conditions associated with the recordable injury or illness, the root-cause determination, and preventive and corrective actions identified and implemented; (4) provide its certification that it informed affected workers of the incident and the results of the incident investigation; (5) notify the Office of Technical Programs and Coordination Activities (OTPCA) and the Baltimore/Washington DC Area Office within 15 working days should the applicant need to revise its HOM to accommodate changes in its compressed-air operations that affect its ability to comply with the conditions of the proposed permanent variance; and (6) provide OTPCA and the Baltimore/ Washington DC Area Office, at the end of the project, with a report evaluating the effectiveness of the decompression tables. These notification requirements would enable the applicant, its employees, and OSHA to determine the effectiveness of the permanent variance in providing the requisite level of safety to the applicant’s workers and, based on this determination, whether to revise or revoke the conditions of the proposed permanent variance. Timely notification would permit OSHA to take whatever action may be necessary and appropriate to prevent further injuries and illnesses. Providing notification to employees would inform them of the precautions taken by the applicant to prevent similar incidents in the future. This proposed condition would also require the applicant to notify OSHA if it ceases to do business, has a new address or location for its main office, or transfers the operations covered by the proposed permanent variance to a successor company. In addition, the condition specifies that OSHA must approve the transfer of the permanent variance to a successor company. These requirements would allow OSHA to communicate effectively with the applicant regarding the status of the proposed permanent variance, and expedite the Agency’s administration and enforcement of the permanent variance. Stipulating that an applicant would be required to have OSHA’s approval to transfer a variance to a successor company would provide assurance that the successor company has knowledge of, and will comply with, the conditions specified by proposed permanent variance, thereby ensuring the safety of workers involved VerDate Sep<11>2014 19:07 Dec 10, 2014 Jkt 235001 in performing the operations covered by the proposed permanent variance. IV. Grant of Interim Order As noted earlier, on July 11, 2013, OSHA granted Traylor JV an interim order to remain in effect until completion of the Blue Plains tunnel project or until the Agency modifies or revokes the interim order or makes a decision on its application for a permanent variance. (Ex. OSHA–2012– 0035–0007.) Based on Traylor JV’s assertions in its application, the interim order addresses CAWs performing interventions in hyperbaric conditions up to 52 p.s.i.g. that do not involve the use of trimix. OSHA affirms the Blue Plains tunnel project-specific interim order. During the period starting with the publication of this notice until completion of the Blue Plains tunnel or the Agency modifies or revokes the interim order or makes a decision on its application for a permanent variance, the applicant is required to comply fully with the conditions of the interim order (as an alternative to complying with the requirements of 29 CFR 1926.803 (hereafter, ‘‘the standard’’) that: A. Prohibit employers using compressed air under hyperbaric conditions from subjecting workers to pressure exceeding 50 p.s.i.g., except in emergency (29 CFR 1926.803(e)(5)); B. Require the use of decompression values specified by the decompression tables in Appendix A of the compressed-air standard (29 CFR 1926.803(f)(1)); and C. Require the use of automated operational controls and a special decompression chamber (29 CFR 1926.803(g)(1)(iii) and .803(g)(1)(xvii), respectively). After reviewing the proposed alternatives OSHA preliminarily determined that: A. Traylor JV developed, and proposed to implement, effective alternative measures to the prohibition of using compressed air under hyperbaric conditions exceeding 50 p.s.i.g. The alternative measures include use of engineering and administrative controls of the hazards associated with work performed in compressed-air conditions exceeding 50 p.s.i.g. while engaged in the construction of a subaqueous tunnel using advanced shielded mechanical-excavation techniques in conjunction with an EPBTBM. Prior to conducting interventions in the EPBTBM’s pressurized working chamber, the applicant halts tunnel excavation and prepares the machine and crew to conduct the interventions. Interventions involve inspection, maintenance, or PO 00000 Frm 00096 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 73637 repair of the mechanical-excavation components located in the working chamber. B. Traylor JV developed, and proposed to implement, safe hyperbaric work procedures, emergency and contingency procedures, and medical examinations for the Blue Plains tunneling project’s CAWs. The applicant compiled these standard operating procedures into a projectspecific HOM (Ex. OSHA–2012–0035– 007). The HOM discusses the procedures and personnel qualifications for performing work safely during the compression and decompression phases of interventions. The HOM also specifies the decompression tables the applicant proposes to use. Depending on the maximum working pressure and exposure times during the interventions, the tables provide for decompression using air, pure oxygen, or a combination of air and oxygen. The decompression tables also include delays or stops for various time intervals at different pressure levels during the transition to atmospheric pressure (i.e., staged decompression). In all cases, a physician certified in hyperbaric medicine will manage the medical condition of CAWs during decompression. In addition, a trained and experienced man-lock attendant, experienced in recognizing decompression sickness or illnesses and injuries, will be present. Of key importance, a hyperbaric supervisor (competent person), trained in hyperbaric operations, procedures, and safety, will directly supervise all hyperbaric operations to ensure compliance with the procedures delineated in the project-specific HOM or by the attending physician. C. Traylor JV developed, and proposed to implement, a training program to instruct affected workers in the hazards associated with conducting hyperbaric operations. D. Traylor JV developed, and proposed to implement, an effective alternative to the use of automatic controllers that continuously decrease pressure to achieve decompression in accordance with the tables specified by the standard. The alternative includes using the 1992 French Decompression Tables for guiding staged decompression to achieve lower occurrences of DCI, using a trained and competent attendant for implementing appropriate hyperbaric entry and exit procedures, and providing a competent hyperbaric supervisor and attending physician certified in hyperbaric medicine, to oversee all hyperbaric operations. E:\FR\FM\11DEN1.SGM 11DEN1 73638 Federal Register / Vol. 79, No. 238 / Thursday, December 11, 2014 / Notices mstockstill on DSK4VPTVN1PROD with NOTICES E. Traylor JV developed, and proposed to implement, an effective alternative to the use of the special decompression chamber required by the standard. EPBTBM technology permits the tunnel’s work areas to be at atmospheric pressure, with only the face of the EPBTBM (i.e., the working chamber) at elevated pressure during interventions. The applicant would limit interventions conducted in the working chamber to performing required inspection, maintenance, and repair of the cutting tools on the face of the EPBTBM. The EPBTBM’s man lock and working chamber provide sufficient space for the maximum crew of three CAWs to stand up and move around, and safely accommodate decompression times up to 360 minutes. Therefore, OSHA preliminarily determined that the EPBTBM’s man lock and working chamber function as effectively as the special decompression chamber required by the standard. OSHA conducted a review of the scientific literature regarding decompression to determine whether the alternative decompression method (i.e., the 1992 French Decompression Tables) Traylor JV proposed would provide a workplace as safe and healthful as that provided by the standard. Based on this review, OSHA determined that tunneling operations performed with these tables 11 resulted in a lower occurrence of DCI than the decompression tables specified by the standard.12 13 14 11 In 1992, the French Ministry of Labour replaced the 1974 French Decompression Tables with the 1992 French Decompression Tables, which differ from OSHA’s decompression tables in Appendix A by using: (1) Staged decompression as opposed to continuous (linear) decompression; (2) decompression tables based on air or both air and pure oxygen; and (3) emergency tables when unexpected exposure times occur (up to 30 minutes above the maximum allowed working time). 12 Kindwall, EP (1997). Compressed air tunneling and caisson work decompression procedures: Development, problems, and solutions. Undersea and Hyperbaric Medicine, 24(4), pp. 337–345. This article reported 60 treated cases of DCI among 4,168 exposures between 19 and 31 p.s.i.g. over a 51-week contract period, for a DCI incidence of 1.44% for the decompression tables specified by the OSHA standard. 13 Sealey, JL (1969). Safe exit from the hyperbaric environment: Medical experience with pressurized tunnel operations. Journal of Occupational Medicine, 11(5), pp. 273–275. This article reported 210 treated cases of DCI among 38,600 hyperbaric exposures between 13 and 34 p.s.i.g. over a 32month period, for an incidence of 0.54% for the decompression tables specified by the Washington State safety standards for compressed-air work, which are similar to the tables in the OSHA standard. Moreover, the article reported 51 treated cases of DCI for 3,000 exposures between 30 and 34 p.s.i.g., for an incidence of 1.7% for the Washington State tables. 14 In 1985, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) published a report VerDate Sep<11>2014 19:07 Dec 10, 2014 Jkt 235001 The review conducted by OSHA found several research studies supporting the determination that the 1992 French Decompression Tables resulted in a lower rate of DCI than the decompression tables specified by the standard. For example, H. L. Anderson studied the occurrence of DCI at maximum hyperbaric pressures ranging from 4 p.s.i.g. to 43 p.s.i.g. during construction of the Great Belt Tunnel in Denmark (1992–1996); 15 this project used the 1992 French Decompression Tables to decompress the workers during part of the construction. Anderson observed 6 DCI cases out of 7,220 decompression events, and reported that switching to the 1992 French Decompression tables reduced the DCI incidence to 0.08%. The DCI incidence in the study by H. L. Andersen is substantially less than the DCI incidence reported for the decompression tables specified in Appendix A. OSHA found no studies in which the DCI incidence reported for the 1992 French Decompression Tables were higher than the DCI incidence reported for the OSHA decompression tables.16 Therefore, OSHA preliminarily concludes that the proposed use of the 1992 French Decompression Tables would protect workers at least as effectively as the OSHA decompression tables. Based on a review of available evidence, the experience of State Plans that either granted variances (Nevada, Oregon and Washington) 17 or promulgated a new standard (California) 18 for hyperbaric exposures occurring during similar subaqueous tunnel-construction work, and the information provided in the applicant’s variance application, OSHA is proposing the grant of the permanent variance. Under section 6(d) of the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 (29 U.S.C. 655), the Agency finds entitled ‘‘Criteria for Interim Decompression Tables for Caisson and Tunnel Workers’’; this report reviewed studies of DCI and other hyperbaricrelated injuries resulting from use of OSHA’s tables. This report is available on NIOSH’s Web site: http:// www.cdc.gov/niosh/topics/decompression/ default.html. 15 Anderson HL (2002). Decompression sickness during construction of the Great Belt tunnel, Denmark. Undersea and Hyperbaric Medicine, 29(3), pp. 172–188. 16 Le Pechon JC, Barre P, Baud JP, Ollivier F ´ (September 1996). Compressed air work—French Tables 1992—operational results. JCLP Hyperbarie Paris, Centre Medical Subaquatique Interentreprise, Marseille: Communication a l’EUBS, pp. 1–5 (see Ex. OSHA–2012–0036–0005). 17 See 79 FR 29816, footnote 12. 18 See California Code of Regulations, Title 8, Subchapter 7, Group 26, Article 154, available at http://www.dir.ca.gov/title8/sb7g26a154.html. PO 00000 Frm 00097 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 that when the employer complies with the conditions of the previously granted interim order, or the conditions of the proposed variance, the working conditions of the employer’s workers would be at least as safe and healthful as if the employer complied with the working conditions specified by paragraphs (e)(5), (f)(1), (g)(1)(iii), and (g)(1)(xvii) of 29 CFR 1926.803. Therefore, Traylor JV will: (1) Comply with the conditions listed in the Blue Plains tunnel project interim order granted on July 11, 2013, for the period between the grant of the interim order and Traylor’s completion of the Blue Plains tunnel project (or until the Agency modifies or revokes the interim order or makes a decision on its application for a permanent variance); (2) comply fully with the specific conditions of the variance, if granted; (3) comply fully with all other applicable provisions of 29 CFR part 1926; and (4) provide a copy of this Federal Register notice to all employees affected by the proposed conditions, including the affected employees of other employers, using the same means it used to inform these employees of its application for a permanent variance. V. Specific Conditions of the Proposed Permanent Variance OSHA affirms the previously granted Blue Plains tunnel project specific interim order authorizing Traylor/ Skanska/Jay Dee Joint Venture (‘‘Traylor JV’’) to comply with said conditions instead of complying with the requirements of paragraphs 29 CFR 1926.803(e)(5), (f)(1), (g)(1)(iii), and (g)(1)(xvii). In addition, the proposed conditions included in this notice specify the alternative means of compliance with the requirements of paragraphs 29 CFR 1926.803(e)(5), (f)(1), (g)(1)(iii), and (g)(1)(xvii) that Traylor JV is proposing for its permanent variance. The proposed conditions would apply to all employees of Traylor JV exposed to hyperbaric conditions. These proposed conditions would be: A. Scope The permanent variance would apply only to work: 1. That occurs in conjunction with construction of the Blue Plains tunnel project, a tunnel constructed using advanced shielded mechanicalexcavation techniques and involving operation of an EPBTBM; 2. Performed under compressed-air and hyperbaric conditions up to 52 p.s.i.g; 3. In the EPBTBM’s forward section (the working chamber) and associated hyperbaric chambers used to pressurize E:\FR\FM\11DEN1.SGM 11DEN1 Federal Register / Vol. 79, No. 238 / Thursday, December 11, 2014 / Notices and decompress employees entering and exiting the working chamber; 4. Except for the requirements specified by 29 CFR 1926.803(e)(5), (f)(1), (g)(1)(iii), and (g)(1)(xvii), Traylor JV would be required to comply fully with all other applicable provisions of 29 CFR part 1926; and B. Application The permanent variance would apply only when Traylor JV stops the tunnelboring work, pressurizes the working chamber, and the CAWs either enter the working chamber to perform interventions (i.e., inspect, maintain, or repair the mechanical-excavation components), or exit the working chamber after performing interventions. C. List of Abbreviations Abbreviations used throughout this proposed permanent variance would include the following: 1. CAW—Compressed-air worker 2. CFR—Code of Federal Regulations 3. DCI—Decompression Illness 4. EPBTBM—Earth Pressure Balanced Tunnel Boring Machine 5. HOM—Hyperbaric Operations and Safety Manual 6. JHA—Job hazard analysis 7. OSHA—Occupational Safety and Health Administration 8. OTPCA—Office of Technical Programs and Coordination Activities Note: Health effects associated with hyperbaric intervention but not considered symptoms of DCI can include: Barotrauma (direct damage to air-containing cavities in the body such as ears, sinuses and lungs); nitrogen narcosis (reversible alteration in consciousness that may occur in hyperbaric environments and is caused by the anesthetic effect of certain gases at high pressure); and oxygen toxicity (a central nervous system condition resulting from the harmful effects of breathing molecular oxygen (O2) at elevated partial pressures). mstockstill on DSK4VPTVN1PROD with NOTICES D. Definitions The following definitions would apply to this proposed permanent variance. These definitions would supplement the definitions in Traylor JV’s project-specific HOM. 1. Affected employee or worker—an employee or worker who is affected by the conditions of this proposed permanent variance, or any one of his or her authorized representatives. The term ‘‘employee’’ has the meaning defined and used under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 (29 U.S.C. 651 et seq.) 2. Atmospheric pressure—the pressure of air at sea level, generally 14.7 p.s.i.a., 1 atmosphere absolute, or 0 p.s.i.g. 3. Compressed-air worker—an individual who is specially trained and medically qualified to perform work in a pressurized environment while breathing air at pressures up to 52 p.s.i.g. 4. Competent person—an individual who is capable of identifying existing and predictable hazards in the surroundings or working conditions that are unsanitary, hazardous, or dangerous to employees, and who has VerDate Sep<11>2014 19:07 Dec 10, 2014 Jkt 235001 authorization to take prompt corrective measures to eliminate them.19 5. Decompression illness (also called decompression sickness or the bends)— an illness caused by gas bubbles appearing in body compartments due to a reduction in ambient pressure. Examples of symptoms of decompression illness include (but are not limited to): Joint pain (also known as the ‘‘bends’’ for agonizing pain or the ‘‘niggles’’ for slight pain); areas of bone destruction (termed dysbaric osteonecrosis); skin disorders (such as cutis marmorata, which causes a pink marbling of the skin); spinal cord and brain disorders (such as stroke, paralysis, paresthesia, and bladder dysfunction); cardiopulmonary disorders, such as shortness of breath; and arterial gas embolism (gas bubbles in the arteries that block blood flow).20 6. Earth Pressure Balanced Tunnel Boring Machine—the machinery used to excavate the tunnel. 7. Hot work—any activity performed in a hazardous location that may introduce an ignition source into a potentially flammable atmosphere.21 8. Hyperbaric—at a higher pressure than atmospheric pressure. 9. Hyperbaric intervention—a term that describes the process of stopping the EPBTBM and preparing and executing work under hyperbaric pressure in the working chamber for the purpose of inspecting, replacing, or repairing cutting tools and/or the cutterhead structure. 10. Hyperbaric Operations Manual—a detailed, project-specific health and safety plan developed and implemented by Traylor JV for working in compressed air during the Blue Plains’ tunnel project. 11. Job hazard analysis—an evaluation of tasks or operations to identify potential hazards and to determine the necessary controls. 19 Adapted from 29 CFR 1926.32(f). Appendix 10 of ‘‘A Guide to the Work in Compressed Air Regulations 1996,’’ published by the United Kingdom Health and Safety Executive available from NIOSH at http://www.cdc.gov/niosh/ docket/archive/pdfs/NIOSH-254/compReg1996.pdf. 21 Also see 29 CFR 1910.146(b). 20 See PO 00000 Frm 00098 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 73639 12. Man lock—an enclosed space capable of pressurization, and used for compressing or decompressing any employee or material when either is passing into or out of a working chamber. 13. Pressure—a force acting on a unit area. Usually expressed as pounds per square inch (p.s.i.). 14. p.s.i.—pounds per square inch, a common unit of measurement of pressure; a pressure given in p.s.i. corresponds to absolute pressure. 15. p.s.i.a.—pounds per square inch absolute, or absolute pressure, is the sum of the atmospheric pressure and gauge pressure. At sea-level, atmospheric pressure is approximately 14.7 p.s.i. Adding 14.7 to a pressure expressed in units of p.s.i.g. will yield the absolute pressure, expressed as p.s.i.a. 16. p.s.i.g.—pounds per square inch gauge, a common unit of pressure; pressure expressed as p.s.i.g. corresponds to pressure relative to atmospheric pressure. At sea-level, atmospheric pressure is approximately 14.7 p.s.i. Subtracting 14.7 from a pressure expressed in units of p.s.i.a. yields the gauge pressure, expressed as p.s.i.g. 17. Qualified person—an individual who, by possession of a recognized degree, certificate, or professional standing, or who, by extensive knowledge, training, and experience, successfully demonstrates an ability to solve or resolve problems relating to the subject matter, the work, or the project.22 18. Working chamber—an enclosed space in the EPBTBM in which CAWs perform interventions, and which is accessible only through a man lock. E. Safety and Health Practices 1. Traylor JV would have to develop and implement an HOM specific to the Blue Plains project, and submit the HOM to OSHA at least six months before using the EPBTBM. Traylor JV would have to receive a written acknowledgement from OSHA regarding the acceptability of the HOM.23 The HOM would provide the governing safety and health requirements regarding hyperbaric exposures during the tunnel-construction project. 2. Traylor JV would have to implement the safety and health instructions included in the manufacturer’s operations manuals for the EPBTBM, and the safety and health instructions provided by the 22 Adapted 23 See E:\FR\FM\11DEN1.SGM from 29 CFR 1926.32(m). footnote 9. 11DEN1 73640 Federal Register / Vol. 79, No. 238 / Thursday, December 11, 2014 / Notices manufacturer for the operation of decompression equipment. 3. Traylor JV would have to use air as the only breathing gas in the working chamber. 4. Traylor JV would have to use the 1992 French Decompression Tables for air, air-oxygen, and oxygen decompression specified in the HOM, specifically the extracted portions of the 1992 French Decompression tables titled ‘‘French Regulation Air Standard Tables.’’ 5. Traylor JV would have to equip man-locks used by its employees with an oxygen-delivery system as specified by the HOM. Traylor JV would be required to not store oxygen or other compressed gases used in conjunction with hyperbaric work in the tunnel. 6. Workers performing hot work under hyperbaric conditions would have to use flame-retardant personal protective equipment and clothing. 7. In hyperbaric work areas, Traylor JV would have to maintain an adequate fire-suppression system approved for hyperbaric work areas. 8. Traylor JV would have to develop and implement one or more JHAs for work in the hyperbaric work areas, and review, periodically and as necessary (e.g., after making changes to a planned intervention that affects its operation), the contents of the JHAs with affected employees. The JHAs would have to include all the job functions that the risk assessment 24 indicates are essential to prevent injury or illness. 9. Traylor JV would have to develop a set of checklists to guide compressedair work and ensure that employees follow the procedures required by this proposed permanent variance (including all procedures required by the HOM, which this proposed variance would incorporate by reference). The checklists would have to include all steps and equipment functions that the risk assessment indicates are essential to prevent injury or illness during compressed-air work. 10. Traylor JV would have to ensure that the safety and health provisions of the HOM adequately protect the workers of all contractors and subcontractors involved in hyperbaric operations.25 mstockstill on DSK4VPTVN1PROD with NOTICES F. Communication 1. Prior to beginning a shift, Traylor JV would have to implement a system 24 See ANSI/AIHA Z10–2012, American National Standard for Occupational Health and Safety Management Systems, for reference. 25 See ANSI/ASSE A10.33–2011, American National Standard for Construction and Demolition Operations—Safety and Health Program Requirements for Multi-Employer Projects, for reference. VerDate Sep<11>2014 19:07 Dec 10, 2014 Jkt 235001 that informs workers exposed to hyperbaric conditions of any hazardous occurrences or conditions that might affect their safety, including hyperbaric incidents, gas releases, equipment failures, earth or rock slides, cave-ins, flooding, fires, or explosions. 2. Traylor JV would have to provide a power-assisted means of communication among affected workers and support personnel in hyperbaric conditions where unassisted voice communication is inadequate. (a) Traylor JV would have to use an independent power supply for powered communication systems, and these systems would have to operate such that use or disruption of any one phone or signal location will not disrupt the operation of the system from any other location. (b) Traylor JV would have to test communication systems at the start of each shift and as necessary thereafter to ensure proper operation. G. Worker Qualifications and Training Traylor JV would have to: 1. Ensure that each affected worker receives effective training on how to safely enter, work in, exit from, and undertake emergency evacuation or rescue from, hyperbaric conditions, and document this training. 2. Provide effective instruction, before beginning hyperbaric operations, to each worker who performs work, or controls the exposure of others, in hyperbaric conditions, and document this instruction. The instruction would have to include topics such as: (a) The physics and physiology of hyperbaric work; (b) Recognition of pressure-related injuries; (c) Information on the causes and recognition of the signs and symptoms associated with decompression illness, and other hyperbaric interventionrelated health effects (e.g., barotrauma, nitrogen narcosis, and oxygen toxicity). (d) How to avoid discomfort during compression and decompression; and (e) Information the workers can use to contact the appropriate healthcare professionals should the workers have concerns that they may be experiencing adverse health effects from hyperbaric exposure. 3. Repeat the instruction specified in paragraph (b) of this proposed condition periodically and as necessary (e.g., after making changes to its hyperbaric operations). 4. When conducting training for its hyperbaric workers make this training available to OSHA personnel and notify the OTPCA at OSHA’s national office PO 00000 Frm 00099 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 and OSHA’s nearest affected Area Office before the training takes place. H. Inspections, Tests, and Accident Prevention 1. Traylor JV would have to initiate and maintain a program of frequent and regular inspections of the EPBTBM’s hyperbaric equipment and support systems (such as temperature control, illumination, ventilation, and fireprevention and fire-suppression systems), and hyperbaric work areas, as required under 29 CFR 1926.20(b)(2) by: (a) Developing a set of checklists to be used by a competent person in conducting weekly inspections of hyperbaric equipment and work areas; and (b) Ensuring that a competent person conducts daily visual checks and weekly inspections of the EPBTBM. 2. If the competent person determines that the equipment constitutes a safety hazard, Traylor JV would have to remove the equipment from service until it corrects the hazardous condition and has the correction approved by a qualified person. 3. Traylor JV would have to maintain records of all tests and inspections of the EPBTBM, as well as associated corrective actions and repairs, at the job site for the duration of the job. I. Compression and Decompression Traylor JV would have to consult with its attending physician concerning the need for special compression or decompression exposures appropriate for CAWs not acclimated to hyperbaric exposure. J. Recordkeeping Traylor JV would have to maintain a record of any recordable injury, illness, or fatality (as defined by 29 CFR part 1904 Recording and Reporting Occupational Injuries and Illnesses), resulting from exposure of an employee to hyperbaric conditions by completing the OSHA 301 Incident Report form and OSHA 300 Log of Work Related Injuries and Illnesses. Note: Examples of important information to include on the OSHA 301 Incident Report form (along with the corresponding question on the form) are: The task performed (Question (Q) 14); an estimate of the CAW’s workload (Q 14); the composition of the gas mixture (e.g., air or oxygen (Q 14)); the maximum working pressure (Q 14); temperature in the work and decompression environments (Q 14); unusual occurrences, if any, during the task or decompression (Q 14); time of symptom onset (Q 15); duration between decompression and onset of symptoms (Q 15); type and duration of symptoms (Q 16); a medical summary of the illness or injury (Q 16); duration of the E:\FR\FM\11DEN1.SGM 11DEN1 Federal Register / Vol. 79, No. 238 / Thursday, December 11, 2014 / Notices hyperbaric intervention (Q 17); possible contributing factors (Q 17); the number of prior interventions completed by the injured or ill CAW (Q 17); the number of prior interventions completed by the injured or ill CAW at this working pressure (Q 17); contact information for the treating healthcare provider (Q 17); and date and time of last hyperbaric exposure for this CAW. In addition to completing the OSHA 301 Incident Report form and OSHA 300 Log of Work Related Injuries and Illnesses, Traylor JV would have to maintain records of: 1. The date, times (e.g., began compression, time spent compressing, time performing intervention, time spent decompressing), and pressure for each hyperbaric intervention. 2. The name of each individual worker exposed to hyperbaric pressure and the decompression protocols and results for each worker. 3. The total number of interventions and the amount of hyperbaric work time at each pressure. 4. The results of the post-intervention physical assessment of each CAW for signs and symptoms of decompression illness, barotrauma, nitrogen narcosis, oxygen toxicity or other health effects associated with work in compressed air for each hyperbaric intervention. mstockstill on DSK4VPTVN1PROD with NOTICES K. Notifications 1. To assist OSHA in administering the conditions specified herein, Traylor JV would have to: (a) Notify the OTPCA and the Baltimore/Washington DC Area Office of any recordable injury, illness, or fatality (by submitting the completed OSHA 301 Incident Report form 26) resulting from exposure of an employee to hyperbaric conditions including those that do not require recompression treatment (e.g., nitrogen narcosis, oxygen toxicity, barotrauma), but still meet the recordable injury or illness criteria of 29 CFR 1904. The notification would have to be made within 8 hours of the incident or 8 hours after becoming aware of a recordable injury, illness, or fatality, and submit a copy of the incident investigation (OSHA form 301) within 24 hours of the incident or 24 hours after becoming aware of a recordable injury, illness, or fatality. In addition to the information required by the OSHA form 301, the incidentinvestigation report would have to include a root-cause determination, and the preventive and corrective actions identified and implemented. (b) Provide certification within 15 working days of the incident that Traylor JV informed affected workers of 26 See footnote 10. VerDate Sep<11>2014 19:56 Dec 10, 2014 Jkt 235001 the incident and the results of the incident investigation (including the root-cause determination and preventive and corrective actions identified and implemented). (c) Notify the OTPCA and the Baltimore/Washington DC Area Office within 15 working days and in writing, of any change in the compressed-air operations that affects Traylor JV’s ability to comply with the proposed conditions specified herein. (d) Upon completion of the Blue Plains tunnel project, evaluate the effectiveness of the decompression tables used throughout the project, and provide a written report of this evaluation to the OTPCA and the Baltimore/Washington DC Area Office. Note: The evaluation report would have to contain summaries of: (1) The number, dates, durations, and pressures of the hyperbaric interventions completed; (2) decompression protocols implemented (including composition of gas mixtures (air and/or oxygen), and the results achieved; (3) the total number of interventions and the number of hyperbaric incidents (decompression illnesses and/or health effects associated with hyperbaric interventions as recorded on OSHA 301 and 300 forms, and relevant medical diagnoses and treating physicians’ opinions); and (4) root causes of any hyperbaric incidents, and preventive and corrective actions identified and implemented. (e) To assist OSHA in administering the proposed conditions specified herein, inform the OTPCA and the Baltimore/Washington DC Area Office as soon as possible after it has knowledge that it will: (i) Cease to do business; (ii) Change the location and address of the main office for managing the tunneling operations specified herein; or (iii) Transfer the operations specified herein to a successor company. (f) Notify all affected employees of this proposed permanent variance by the same means required to inform them of its application for a variance. 2. OSHA would have to approve the transfer of the proposed permanent variance to a successor company. VI. Authority and Signature David Michaels, Ph.D., MPH, Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health, 200 Constitution Avenue NW., Washington, DC 20210, authorized the preparation of this notice. Accordingly, the Agency is issuing this notice pursuant to Section 29 U.S.C. 655(6)(d), Secretary of Labor’s Order No. 1–2012 (77 FR 3912, Jan. 25, 2012), and 29 CFR 1905.11. PO 00000 Frm 00100 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 73641 Signed at Washington, DC, on December 5, 2014. David Michaels, Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health. [FR Doc. 2014–28994 Filed 12–10–14; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4510–26–P NUCLEAR REGULATORY COMMISSION [Docket No. 52–024; NRC–2008–0233] Entergy Operations, Inc.; Combined License Application for Grand Gulf, Unit 3 Nuclear Regulatory Commission. ACTION: Exemption. AGENCY: The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) is issuing an exemption in response to a July 18, 2014, request from Entergy Operations, Inc. (EOI), which requested an exemption from addressing enhancements to the Emergency Preparedness (EP) rules in their Combined License (COL) application. The NRC staff reviewed this request and determined that it is appropriate to grant the exemption but stipulated that the revised application must be submitted the earlier of either the NRC’s resumption of EOI’s application review or by December 31, 2015. DATES: December 11, 2014. ADDRESSES: Please refer to Docket ID NRC–2008–0233 when contacting the NRC about the availability of information regarding this document. You may obtain publicly-available information related to this action by the following methods: • Federal Rulemaking Web site: Go to http://www.regulations.gov and search for Docket ID NRC–2008–0233. Address questions about NRC dockets to Carol Gallagher; telephone: 301–287–3422; email: Carol.Gallagher@nrc.gov. For technical questions, contact the individual listed in the FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT section of this document. • NRC’s Agencywide Documents Access and Management System (ADAMS): You may access publicly available documents online in the NRC Library at http://www.nrc.gov/readingrm/adams.html. To begin the search, select ‘‘ADAMS Public Documents’’ and then select ‘‘Begin Web-based ADAMS Search.’’ For problems with ADAMS, please contact the NRC’s Public Document Room (PDR) reference staff at 1–800–397–4209, 301–415–4737, or by email to pdr.resource@nrc.gov. The SUMMARY: E:\FR\FM\11DEN1.SGM 11DEN1

Agencies

[Federal Register Volume 79, Number 238 (Thursday, December 11, 2014)]
[Notices]
[Pages 73631-73641]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2014-28994]


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DEPARTMENT OF LABOR

Occupational Safety and Health Administration

[Docket No. OSHA-2012-0035]


Traylor/Skanska/Jay Dee Joint Venture; Application for Permanent 
Variance and Interim Order; Grant of Interim Order; Request for 
Comments

AGENCY: Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), Labor.

ACTION: Notice.

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SUMMARY: In this notice, OSHA announces the application of Traylor/
Skanska/Jay Dee Joint Venture (collectively ``Traylor JV'' or ``the 
applicant'') for a permanent variance and interim order from the 
provisions of OSHA standards that regulate work in compressed air 
environments and presents the Agency's preliminary finding to grant the 
permanent variance. OSHA invites the public to submit comments on the 
variance application to assist the Agency in determining whether to 
grant the applicant a permanent variance based on the conditions 
specified in this application.

DATES: Submit comments, information, documents in response to this 
notice, and request for a hearing on or before January 12, 2015. The 
interim order described in this notice became effective on July 11, 
2013, and shall remain in effect until the completion of the Blue 
Plains tunnel project or the interim order is modified or revoked.

ADDRESSES: Submit comments by any of the following methods:
    1. Electronically: Submit comments and attachments electronically 
at http://www.regulations.gov, which is the Federal eRulemaking Portal. 
Follow the instructions online for making electronic submissions.
    2. Facsimile: If submissions, including attachments, are not longer 
than 10 pages, commenters may fax them to the OSHA Docket Office at 
(202) 693-1648.
    3. Regular or express mail, hand delivery, or messenger (courier) 
service: Submit comments, requests, and any attachments to the OSHA 
Docket Office, Docket No. OSHA-2012-0035, Technical Data Center, U.S. 
Department of Labor, 200 Constitution Avenue NW., Room N-2625, 
Washington, DC 20210; telephone: (202) 693-2350 (TTY number: (877) 889-
5627). Note that security procedures may result in significant delays 
in receiving comments and other written materials by regular mail. 
Contact the OSHA Docket Office for information about security 
procedures concerning delivery of materials by express delivery, hand 
delivery, or messenger service. The hours of operation for the OSHA 
Docket Office are 8:15 a.m.-4:45 p.m., e.t.
    4. Instructions: All submissions must include the Agency name and 
the OSHA docket number (OSHA-2012-0035). OSHA places comments and other 
materials, including any personal information, in the public docket 
without revision, and these materials will be available online at 
http://www.regulations.gov. Therefore, the Agency cautions commenters 
about submitting statements they do not want made available to the 
public, or submitting comments that contain personal information 
(either about themselves or others) such as Social Security numbers, 
birth dates, and medical data.
    5. Docket: To read or download submissions or other material in the 
docket, go to http://www.regulations.gov or the OSHA Docket Office at 
the address above. All documents in the docket are listed in the http://www.regulations.gov index; however, some information (e.g., 
copyrighted material) is not publicly available to read or download 
through the Web site. All submissions, including copyrighted material, 
are available for inspection and copying at the OSHA Docket Office. 
Contact the OSHA Docket Office for assistance in locating docket 
submissions.
    6. Extension of comment period: Submit requests for an extension of 
the comment period on or before January 12, 2015 to the Office of 
Technical Programs and Coordination Activities, Directorate of 
Technical Support and Emergency Management, Occupational Safety and 
Health Administration, U.S. Department of Labor, 200 Constitution 
Avenue NW., Room N-3655, Washington, DC 20210, or by fax to (202) 693-
1644.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Information regarding this notice is 
available from the following sources:
    Press inquiries: Contact Mr. Frank Meilinger, Director, OSHA Office 
of Communications, U.S. Department of Labor, 200 Constitution Avenue 
NW., Room N-3647, Washington, DC 20210; telephone: (202) 693-1999; 
email: Meilinger.francis2@dol.gov.
    General and technical information: Contact Mr. David W. Johnson, 
Director, Office of Technical Programs and Coordination Activities, 
Directorate of Technical Support and Emergency Management, Occupational 
Safety and Health Administration, U.S. Department of Labor, 200 
Constitution Avenue NW.,

[[Page 73632]]

Room N-3655, Washington, DC 20210; phone: (202) 693-2110 or email: 
johnson.david.w@dol.gov.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: 
    Copies of this Federal Register notice. Electronic copies of this 
Federal Register notice are available at http://www.regulations.gov. 
This Federal Register notice, as well as news releases and other 
relevant information, also are available at OSHA's Web page at http://www.osha.gov.
    Hearing Requests. According to 29 CFR 1905.15, hearing requests 
must include: (1) A short and plain statement detailing how the 
proposed variance would affect the requesting party; (2) a 
specification of any statement or representation in the variance 
application that the commenter denies, and a concise summary of the 
evidence adduced in support of each denial; and (3) any views or 
arguments on any issue of fact or law presented in the variance 
application.

I. Notice of Application

    On April 26, 2012, Traylor Bros., Inc., 835 N. Congress Ave., 
Evansville, IN 47715, and Traylor/Skanska/Jay Dee Joint Venture, Blue 
Plains Tunnel, 5000 Overlook SW., Washington, DC 20032, submitted under 
Section 6(d) of the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 (``OSH 
Act''; 29 U.S.C. 655) and 29 CFR 1905.11 (``Variances and other relief 
under section 6(d)'') an application for a permanent variance from 
several provisions of the OSHA standard that regulates work in 
compressed air at 29 CFR 1926.803. OSHA is addressing this request as 
two separate applications: (1) Traylor Bros., Inc. (``Traylor'') 
request for a permanent variance for future tunneling projects; and (2) 
Traylor/Skanska/Jay Dee Joint Venture, Blue Plains Tunnel (``Traylor 
JV'' or ``the applicant''). This notice only addresses the Traylor JV 
application for an interim order and permanent variance for the Blue 
Plains project.\1\ This notice does not address the Traylor application 
for a permanent variance for future projects. That request will be 
addressed separately.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \1\ See Section III discussion of proposed condition A Scope.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Traylor JV also requested an interim order pending OSHA's decision 
on the application for a variance (Ex. OSHA-2012-0035-0002). 
Specifically, this notice addresses the application submitted by 
Traylor JV (for the Blue Plains Tunnel project) in which the applicant 
seeks a permanent variance and interim order from the provisions of the 
standard that: (1) Prohibit compressed-air worker exposure to pressures 
exceeding 50 pounds per square inch (p.s.i.) except in an emergency (29 
CFR 1926.803(e)(5)); \2\ (2) require the use of the decompression 
values specified in decompression tables in Appendix A of the 
compressed-air standard for construction (29 CFR 1926.803(f)(1)); and 
(3) require the use of automated operational controls and a special 
decompression chamber (29 CFR 1926.803(g)(1)(iii) and .803(g)(1)(xvii), 
respectively).
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    \2\ The decompression tables in Appendix A of subpart S express 
the maximum working pressures as pounds per square inch gauge 
(p.s.i.g.), with a maximum working pressure of 50 p.s.i.g. 
Therefore, throughout this notice, OSHA expresses the 50 p.s.i. 
value specified by Sec.  1926.803(e)(5) as 50 p.s.i.g., consistent 
with the terminology in Appendix A, Table 1 of subpart S.
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    The applicant is a contractor that works on complex tunnel projects 
using recently developed equipment and procedures for soft-ground 
tunneling. The applicant's workers engage in the construction of 
tunnels using advanced shielded mechanical excavation techniques in 
conjunction with an earth pressure balanced tunnel boring machine 
(EPBTBM).
    According to its application, Traylor is currently the managing 
partner of Traylor/Skanska/Jay Dee Joint Venture (``Traylor JV''), the 
general contractor for the DC Water and Sewer Authority's project to 
construct the Blue Plains tunnel. Traylor JV asserts that generally, it 
bores tunnels (i.e., Blue Plains tunnel) below the water table through 
soft soils consisting of clay, silt, and sand. Traylor JV employs 
specially trained personnel for the construction of the tunnel, and 
states that this construction will use shielded mechanical-excavation 
techniques. Traylor JV asserts that its workers perform hyperbaric 
interventions at pressures greater than 50 p.s.i.g. in the excavation 
chamber of the EPBTBM; these interventions consist of conducting 
inspections and maintenance work on the cutter-head structure and 
cutting tools of the EPBTBM.
    Traylor JV asserts that innovations in tunnel excavation, 
specifically with EPBTBMs, have, in most cases, eliminated the need to 
pressurize the entire tunnel. This technology negates the requirement 
that all members of a tunnel-excavation crew work in compressed air 
while excavating the tunnel. These advances in technology modified 
substantially the methods used by the construction industry to excavate 
subaqueous tunnels compared to the caisson work regulated by the 
current OSHA compressed-air standard for construction at 29 CFR 
1926.803. Such advances reduce the number of workers exposed, and the 
total duration of exposure, to hyperbaric pressure during tunnel 
construction.
    Using shielded mechanical-excavation techniques, in conjunction 
with precast concrete tunnel liners and backfill grout, EPBTBMs provide 
methods to achieve the face pressures required to maintain a stabilized 
tunnel face through various geologies, and isolate that pressure to the 
forward section (the working chamber) of the EPBTBM. Interventions in 
the working chamber (the pressurized portion of the EPBTBM) take place 
only after halting tunnel excavation and preparing the machine and crew 
for an intervention. Interventions occur to inspect or maintain the 
mechanical-excavation components located in the working chamber. 
Maintenance conducted in the working chamber includes changing 
replaceable cutting tools and disposable wear bars, and, in rare cases, 
repairing structural damage to the cutter head.
    In addition to innovations in tunnel-excavation methods, Traylor JV 
asserts that innovations in hyperbaric medicine and technology improve 
the safety of decompression from hyperbaric exposures. According to 
Traylor JV, the use of decompression protocols incorporating oxygen is 
at least as effective for tunnel workers as compliance with the 
decompression tables specified by the existing OSHA standard (29 CFR 
1926, subpart S, Appendix A decompression tables). These hyperbaric 
exposures are possible due to advances in technology, a better 
understanding of hyperbaric medicine, and the development of a project-
specific Hyperbaric Operations Manual (HOM) that requires specialized 
medical support and hyperbaric supervision to provide assistance to a 
team of specially trained man-lock attendants and hyperbaric or 
compressed-air workers.
    OSHA initiated a technical review of the Traylor JV's variance 
application and developed a set of follow-up questions that it sent to 
Traylor JV on September 17, 2012 (Ex. OSHA-2012-0035-0010). On October 
26, 2012, Traylor JV submitted its response and a request for an 
interim order for the Blue Plains Tunnel Project (Ex. OSHA-2012-0035-
0008). In its response to OSHA's follow-up questions, Traylor JV 
indicated that the maximum pressure to which it is likely to expose 
workers during interventions for the Blue Plains tunnel project is 52 
p.s.i.g. and would not involve the use of trimix breathing gas 
(composed of a mixture of oxygen, nitrogen, and helium in varying 
concentrations used for breathing by compressed air workers for 
compression

[[Page 73633]]

and decompression when working at pressures exceeding 73 p.s.i.g.). 
Therefore, to work effectively on this project, Traylor JV must perform 
hyperbaric interventions in compressed air at pressures higher than the 
maximum pressure specified by the existing OSHA standard, 29 CFR 
1926.803(e)(5), which states: ``No employee shall be subjected to 
pressure exceeding 50 p.s.i.g. except in emergency'' (see footnote 2).
    OSHA considered Traylor JV's application for a permanent variance 
and interim order for the Blue Plains tunnel project. OSHA determined 
that Traylor JV proposed an alternative that will provide a workplace 
as safe and healthful as that provided by the standard. On July 11, 
2013, OSHA granted Traylor JV a project-specific interim order for the 
completion of the Blue Plains tunnel (Ex. OSHA-2012-0035-0007) in order 
to permit the applicant to begin work while OSHA continued to consider 
its application for a permanent variance.

II. The Variance Application

A. Background

    Traylor JV asserts that the advances in tunnel excavation 
technology described in Section I of this notice modified significantly 
the equipment and methods used by contractors to construct subaqueous 
tunnels, thereby making several provisions of OSHA's compressed-air 
standard for construction at 29 CFR 1926.803 inappropriate for this 
type of work. These advances reduce both the number of workers exposed, 
and the total duration of exposure, to the hyperbaric conditions 
associated with tunnel construction.
    Using shielded mechanical-excavation techniques, in conjunction 
with pre-cast concrete tunnel liners and backfill grout, EPBTBMs 
provide methods to achieve the face pressures required to maintain a 
stabilized tunnel face, through various geologies, while isolating that 
pressure to the forward section (working or excavation chamber) of the 
EPBTBM.
    Interventions involving the working chamber (the pressurized 
chamber at the head of the EPBTBM) take place only after the applicant 
halts tunnel excavation and prepares the machine and crew for an 
intervention. Interventions occur to inspect or maintain the 
mechanical-excavation components located in the forward portion of the 
working chamber. Maintenance conducted in the forward portion of the 
working chamber includes changing replaceable cutting tools, disposable 
wear bars, and, in rare cases, repairs to the cutter head due to 
structural damage.
    In addition to innovations in tunnel-excavation methods, research 
conducted after OSHA published its compressed-air standard for 
construction in 1971, resulted in advances in hyperbaric medicine. In 
this regard, the applicant asserts that the use of decompression 
protocols incorporating oxygen is more efficient, effective, and safer 
for tunnel workers than compliance with the existing OSHA standard (29 
CFR 1926, subpart S, Appendix A decompression tables). According to the 
applicant, contractors routinely and safely expose employees performing 
interventions in the working chamber of EPBTBMs to hyperbaric pressures 
up to 75 p.s.i.g., which is 50% higher than maximum pressure specified 
by the existing OSHA standard (see 29 CFR 1926.803(e)(5)).
    The applicant contends that the alternative safety measures 
included in its application provide its workers with a place of 
employment that is at least as safe and healthful as they would obtain 
under the existing provisions of OSHA's compressed-air standard for 
construction. The applicant certifies that it provided employee 
representatives of affected workers with a copy of the variance 
application.\3\ The applicant also certifies that it notified its 
workers of the variance application by posting, at prominent locations 
where it normally posts workplace notices, a summary of the application 
and information specifying where the workers can examine a copy of the 
application. In addition, the applicant informed its workers and their 
representatives of their rights to petition the Assistant Secretary of 
Labor for Occupational Safety and Health for a hearing on the variance 
application.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \3\ See the definition of ``Affected employee or worker'' in 
section V.D.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

B. Variance From Paragraph (e)(5) of 29 CFR 1926.803, Prohibition of 
Exposure to Pressure Greater Than 50 p.s.i.g. (See Footnote 1)

    The applicant states that it may perform hyperbaric interventions 
at pressures greater than 50 p.s.i.g. in the working chamber of the 
EPBTBM; this pressure exceeds the pressure limit of 50 p.s.i.g. 
specified for nonemergency purposes by 29 CFR 1926.803(e)(5). The 
EPBTBM has twin man locks, with each man lock having two compartments. 
This configuration allows workers to access the man locks for 
compression and decompression, and medical personnel to access the man 
locks if required in an emergency.
    EPBTBMs are capable of maintaining pressure at the tunnel face, and 
stabilizing existing geological conditions, through the controlled use 
of propel cylinders, a mechanically driven cutter head, bulkheads 
within the shield, ground-treatment foam, and a screw conveyor that 
moves excavated material from the working chamber. As noted earlier, 
the forward-most portion of the EPBTBM is the working chamber, and this 
chamber is the only pressurized segment of the EPBTBM. Within the 
shield, the working chamber consists of two sections: The staging 
chamber and the forward working chamber. The staging chamber is the 
section of the working chamber between the man-lock door and the entry 
door to the forward working chamber. The forward working chamber is 
immediately behind the cutter head and tunnel face.
    The applicant will pressurize the working chamber to the level 
required to maintain a stable tunnel face. Pressure in the staging 
chamber ranges from atmospheric (no increased pressure) to a maximum 
pressure equal to the pressure in the working chamber. The applicant 
asserts that most of the hyperbaric interventions will be around 14.7 
p.s.i.g. However, the applicant maintains that they may have to perform 
interventions at pressures up to 52 p.s.i.g.
    During interventions, workers enter the working chamber through one 
of the twin man locks that open into the staging chamber. To reach the 
forward part of the working chamber, workers pass through a door in a 
bulkhead that separates the staging chamber from the forward working 
chamber. The maximum crew size allowed in the forward working chamber 
is three. At certain hyperbaric pressures (i.e., when decompression 
times are greater than work times), the twin man locks allow for crew 
rotation. During crew rotation, one crew can be compressing or 
decompressing while the second crew is working. Therefore, the working 
crew always has an unoccupied man lock at its disposal.
    The applicant developed a project-specific HOM for the Blue Plains 
tunnel (Ex. OSHA-2012-0035-0003) that describes in detail the 
hyperbaric procedures and required medical examinations used during the 
tunnel-construction project. The HOM discusses standard operating 
procedures and emergency and contingency procedures. The procedures 
include using experienced and knowledgeable man-lock attendants who 
have the training and experience necessary to recognize and treat 
decompression illnesses and injuries. The attendants

[[Page 73634]]

are under the direct supervision of the hyperbaric supervisor and 
attending physician. In addition, procedures include medical screening 
and review of prospective compressed-air workers (CAWs). The purpose of 
this screening procedure is to vet prospective CAWs with medical 
conditions (e.g., deep vein thrombosis, poor vascular circulation, and 
muscle cramping) that could be aggravated by sitting in a cramped space 
(e.g., a man lock) for extended periods or by exposure to elevated 
pressures and compressed gas mixtures. A transportable recompression 
chamber (shuttle) is available to extract workers from the hyperbaric 
working chamber for emergency evacuation and medical treatment; the 
shuttle attaches to the topside medical lock, which is a large 
recompression chamber. The applicant believes that the procedures 
included in the HOM provide safe work conditions when interventions are 
necessary, including interventions above 50 p.s.i.g.

C. Variance From Paragraph (f)(1) of 29 CFR 1926.803, Requirement To 
Use OSHA Decompression Tables

    OSHA's compressed-air standard for construction requires 
decompression in accordance with the decompression tables in Appendix A 
of 29 CFR 1926, subpart S (see 29 CFR 1926.803(f)(1)). As an 
alternative to the OSHA decompression tables, the applicant proposes to 
use newer decompression schedules that supplement breathing air used 
during decompression with pure oxygen. The applicant asserts that these 
decompression protocols are safer for tunnel workers than the 
decompression protocols specified in Appendix A of 29 CFR 1926, subpart 
S.
    Accordingly, the applicant proposes to use the 1992 French 
Decompression Tables to decompress CAWs after they exit the hyperbaric 
conditions in the working chamber. Depending on the maximum working 
pressure and exposure times, the 1992 French Decompression Tables 
provide for air decompression with or without oxygen. Traylor JV 
asserts that oxygen decompression has many benefits, including (1) 
keeping the partial pressure of nitrogen in the lungs as low as 
possible; (2) keeping external pressure as low as possible to reduce 
the formation of bubbles in the blood; (3) removing nitrogen from the 
lungs and arterial blood and increasing the rate of elimination of 
nitrogen; (4) improving the quality of breathing during decompression 
stops so that workers are less tired and to prevent bone necrosis; (5) 
reducing decompression time by about 33 percent as compared to air 
decompression; and (6) reducing inflammation. As described in Section 
IV of this notice, OSHA's review of the use of oxygen in several major 
tunneling projects completed in the past indicates that it contributed 
significantly to the reduction of decompression illness (DCI) and other 
associated adverse effects observed and reported among CAWs.
    In addition, the HOM requires a physician certified in hyperbaric 
medicine to manage the medical condition of CAWs during hyperbaric 
exposures and decompression. A trained and experienced man-lock 
attendant also will be present during hyperbaric exposures and 
decompression. This man-lock attendant will operate the hyperbaric 
system to ensure compliance with the specified decompression table. A 
hyperbaric supervisor (competent person), trained in hyperbaric 
operations, procedures, and safety, directly oversees all hyperbaric 
interventions, and ensures that staff follow the procedures delineated 
in the HOM or by the attending physician.
    The applicant asserts that at higher hyperbaric pressures, 
decompression times exceed 75 minutes. The HOM establishes protocols 
and procedures that provide the basis for alternate means of protection 
for CAWs under these conditions. Accordingly, based on these protocols 
and procedures, the applicant requests to use the 1992 French 
Decompression Tables for hyperbaric interventions up to 52 p.s.i.g. for 
completion of the Blue Plains tunnel project. The applicant is 
committed to follow the decompression procedures described in the Blue 
Plains tunnel project-specific HOM during these interventions.

D. Variance From Paragraph (g)(1)(iii) of 29 CFR 1926.803, 
Automatically Regulated Continuous Decompression

    According to the applicant, breathing air under hyperbaric 
conditions increases the amount of nitrogen gas dissolved in a CAW's 
tissues. The greater the hyperbaric pressure under these conditions, 
and the more time spent under the increased pressure, the greater the 
amount of nitrogen gas dissolved in the tissues. When the pressure 
decreases during decompression, tissues release the dissolved nitrogen 
gas into the blood system, which then carries the nitrogen gas to the 
lungs for elimination through exhalation. Releasing hyperbaric pressure 
too rapidly during decompression can increase the size of the bubbles 
formed by nitrogen gas in the blood system, resulting in DCI, commonly 
referred to as ``the bends.'' This description of the etiology of DCI 
is consistent with current scientific theory and research on the issue 
(see footnote 12 in this notice discussing a 1985 NIOSH report on DCI).
    The 1992 French Decompression Tables proposed for use by the 
applicant provide for stops during worker decompression (i.e., staged 
decompression) to control the release of nitrogen gas from tissues into 
the blood system. Studies show that staged decompression, in 
combination with other features of the 1992 French Decompression Tables 
such as the use of oxygen, result in a lower incidence of DCI than the 
OSHA decompression requirements of 29 CFR 1926.803, which specify the 
use of automatically regulated continuous decompression (see footnotes 
9 through 14 in this notice for references to these studies).\4\ In 
addition, the applicant asserts that staged decompression is at least 
as effective as an automatic controller in regulating the decompression 
process because:
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \4\ In the study cited in footnote 10, starting at page 338, Dr. 
Eric Kindwall notes that the use of automatically regulated 
continuous decompression in the Washington State safety standards 
for compressed-air work (from which OSHA derived its decompression 
tables) was at the insistence of contractors and the union, and 
against the advice of the expert who calculated the decompression 
table and recommended using staged decompression. Dr. Kindwall then 
states, ``Continuous decompression is inefficient and wasteful. For 
example, if the last stage from 4 psig . . . to the surface took 1 
h, at least half the time is spent at pressures less than 2 psig . . 
., which provides less and less meaningful bubble suppression. . . 
.'' In addition, the report referenced in footnote 5 under the 
section titled, ``Background on the Need for Interim Decompression 
Tables'' addresses the continuous-decompression protocol in the OSHA 
compressed-air standard for construction, noting that ``[a]side from 
the tables for saturation diving to deep depths, no other widely 
used or officially approved diving decompression tables use straight 
line, continuous decompressions at varying rates. Stage 
decompression is usually the rule, since it is simpler to control.''
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    1. A hyperbaric supervisor (a competent person experienced and 
trained in hyperbaric operations, procedures, and safety) directly 
supervises all hyperbaric interventions and ensures that the man-lock 
attendant, who is a competent person in the manual control of 
hyperbaric systems, follows the schedule specified in the decompression 
tables, including stops; and
    2. The use of the 1992 French Decompression Tables for staged 
decompression offers an equal or better level of management and control 
over the decompression process than an automatic controller and results 
in lower occurrences of DCI.

[[Page 73635]]

    Accordingly, the applicant is applying for a permanent variance 
from the OSHA standard at 29 CFR 1926.803(g)(1)(iii), which requires 
automatic controls to regulate decompression. As noted above, the 
applicant is committed to conduct the staged decompression according to 
the 1992 French Decompression Tables under the direct control of the 
trained man-lock attendant and under the oversight of the hyperbaric 
supervisor.

E. Variance From Paragraph (g)(1)(xvii) of 29 CFR 1926.803, Requirement 
of Special Decompression Chamber

    The OSHA compressed-air standard for construction requires 
employers to use a special decompression chamber when total 
decompression time exceeds 75 minutes (see 29 CFR 
1926.803(g)(1)(xvii)). Another provision of OSHA's compressed-air 
standard calls for locating the special decompression chamber adjacent 
to the man lock on the atmospheric pressure side of the tunnel bulkhead 
(see 29 CFR 1926.803(g)(2)(vii)). However, since only the working 
chamber of the EPBTBM is under pressure, and only a few workers out of 
the entire crew are exposed to hyperbaric pressure, the man locks 
(which, as noted earlier, connect directly to the working chamber) are 
of sufficient size to accommodate the exposed workers. In addition, 
available space in the EPBTBM does not allow for an additional special 
decompression lock. Again, the applicant uses the man locks, each of 
which adequately accommodates a three-member crew, for this purpose 
when decompression lasts up to 75 minutes. When decompression exceeds 
75 minutes, crews can open the door connecting the two compartments in 
each man lock during decompression stops or exit the man lock and move 
into the staging chamber where additional space is available. This 
alternative enables CAWs to move about and flex their joints to prevent 
neuromuscular problems during decompression.

F. Previous Tunnel Construction Variance

    OSHA notes that on May 23, 2014, it granted a sub-aqueous tunnel 
construction permanent variance to Tully/OHL USA Joint Venture (79 FR 
29809) from the same provisions of the standard that regulates work in 
compressed air (at 29 CFR 1926.803(e)(5), (f)(1), (g)(1)(iii), and 
(g)(1)(xvii)) that are the subject of the present application. 
Generally, the proposed alternate conditions in this notice are based 
on and very similar to the alternate conditions of the previous 
permanent variance.

G. Multi-State Variance

    As stated earlier in this notice, Traylor JV applied for an interim 
order for its Blue Plains Tunnel project only. On July 11, 2013, OSHA 
granted an interim order to cover only the Blue Plains tunnel project, 
which is located entirely in the District of Columbia and thus under 
Federal OSHA's exclusive jurisdiction.
    Additionally, twenty-seven state safety and health plans have been 
approved by OSHA under section 18 of the (OSH) Act.\5\ As part of the 
permanent variance process, the Directorate of Cooperative and State 
Programs will notify the State Plans of Traylor JV's variance 
application and grant of the Blue Plains interim order. In considering 
Traylor JV's application for a permanent variance and interim order, 
OSHA noted that four states have previously granted sub-aqueous tunnel 
construction variances and imposed different or additional requirements 
and conditions (California, Nevada, Oregon, and Washington). California 
also promulgated a new standard (e.g., California \6\) for similar sub-
aqueous tunnel construction work.
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    \5\ Five State Plans (Connecticut, Illinois, New Jersey, New 
York, and the Virgin Islands) limit their occupational safety and 
health authority to state and local employers only. State Plans that 
exercise their occupational safety and health authority over both 
public- and private-sector employers are: Alaska, Arizona, 
California, Hawaii, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Maryland, Michigan, 
Minnesota, Nevada, New Mexico, North Carolina, Oregon, Puerto Rico, 
South Carolina, Tennessee, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, and 
Wyoming.
    \6\ See California Code of Regulations, Title 8, Subchapter 7, 
Group 26, Article 154, available at http://www.dir.ca.gov/title8/sb7g26a154.html.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Five State Plans (Connecticut, Illinois, New Jersey, New York, and 
the Virgin Islands) cover only public-sector workers and have no 
authority over the private-sector workers addressed in this variance 
application (i.e., that authority continues to reside with Federal 
OSHA).

III. Description of the Conditions Specified by the Application for a 
Permanent Variance

    As indicated in Section I of this notice, on July 11, 2013, OSHA 
granted Traylor JV a project specific interim order for the completion 
of the Blue Plains tunnel in order to permit the applicant to begin 
work. The project-specific interim order is to remain in effect until 
completion of the Blue Plains tunnel project \7\ or until the Agency 
modifies or revokes the interim order or makes a decision on Traylor 
JV's application for a permanent variance. The substantive terms of the 
interim order are identical to the terms of the proposed permanent 
variance discussed further below.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \7\ The contractual completion date of the Blue Plains tunnel is 
November 10, 2015.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    This section describes the alternative means of compliance with 29 
CFR 1926.803(e)(5), (f)(1), (g)(1)(iii), and (g)(1)(xvii) and provides 
additional detail regarding the proposed conditions that form the basis 
of Traylor JV's application for a permanent variance.
Proposed Condition A: Scope
    The scope of the proposed permanent variance limits coverage to the 
work situations specified under this proposed condition. Clearly 
defining the scope of the proposed permanent variance provides Traylor 
JV, Traylor JV's employees, other stakeholders, the public, and OSHA 
with necessary information regarding the work situations in which the 
proposed permanent variance would apply.
    According to 29 CFR 1905.11, an employer or class or group of 
employers \8\ may request a permanent variance for a specific workplace 
or workplaces. If granted, the variance would apply to the specific 
employer(s) that submitted the application. In this instance, if OSHA 
were to grant a permanent variance, it would apply to the applicant, 
Traylor/Skanska/Jay Dee Joint Venture at the Blue Plains Tunnel project 
only. As a result, it is important to understand that the interim order 
and proposed variance does not apply to any other employers.
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    \8\ A class or group of employers (such as members of a trade 
alliance or association) may apply jointly for a variance provided 
an authorized representative for each employer signs the application 
and the application identifies each employer's affected facilities.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

Proposed Condition B: Application
    This proposed condition specifies the circumstances under which the 
proposed permanent variance would be in effect, notably only for 
hyperbaric work performed during interventions. The proposed condition 
places clear limits on the circumstances under which the applicant can 
expose its employees to hyperbaric pressure.
Proposed Condition C: List of Abbreviations
    Proposed condition C defines a number of abbreviations used in the 
proposed permanent variance. OSHA believes that defining these 
abbreviations serves to clarify and standardize their usage, thereby 
enhancing the applicant's and its employees' understanding of the

[[Page 73636]]

conditions specified by the proposed permanent variance.
Proposed Condition D: Definitions
    The proposed condition defines a series of terms, mostly technical 
terms, used in the proposed permanent variance to standardize and 
clarify their meaning. Defining these terms serves to enhance the 
applicant's and its employees' understanding of the conditions 
specified by the proposed permanent variance.
Proposed Condition E: Safety and Health Practices
    This proposed condition requires the applicant to develop and 
submit to OSHA an HOM specific to the Blue Plains project at least six 
months before using the EPBTBM for tunneling operations. Additionally, 
the proposed condition includes a series of related hazard prevention 
and control requirements and methods (e.g., decompression tables, job 
hazard analyses (JHA), operations and inspections checklists, incident 
investigation, recording and notification to OSHA of recordable 
hyperbaric injuries and illnesses, etc.) designed to ensure the 
continued effective functioning of the hyperbaric equipment and 
operating system.
    Review of the HOM enables OSHA to: (1) Determine that the safety 
and health instructions and measures it specifies would be appropriate 
and would adequately protect the safety and health of the CAWs; and (2) 
request the applicant to revise or modify the HOM if it finds that the 
hyperbaric safety and health procedures are not suitable for the 
specific project and would not adequately protect the safety and health 
of the CAWs. Once approved, the project specific HOM becomes part of 
the variance, thus enabling OSHA to enforce its safety and health 
procedures and measures.\9\
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    \9\ Grant of the July 11, 2013, project-specific interim order 
constitutes interim acknowledgement by OSHA of the acceptability of 
the HOM provided by Traylor JV for the Blue Plains tunnel project.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

Proposed Condition F: Communication
    Proposed condition F would require the applicant to develop and 
implement an effective system of information sharing and communication. 
Effective information sharing and communication ensures that affected 
workers receive updated information regarding any safety-related 
hazards and incidents, and corrective actions taken, prior to the start 
of each shift. The proposed condition also requires the applicant to 
ensure that reliable means of emergency communications are available 
and maintained for affected workers and support personnel during 
hyperbaric operations. Availability of such reliable means of 
communications would enable affected workers and support personnel to 
respond quickly and effectively to hazardous conditions or emergencies 
that may develop during EPBTBM operations.
Proposed Condition G: Worker Qualification and Training
    This proposed condition would require the applicant to develop and 
implement an effective qualification and training program for affected 
workers. The proposed condition specifies the factors that an affected 
worker must know to perform safely during hyperbaric operations, 
including how to enter, work in, and exit from hyperbaric conditions 
under both normal and emergency conditions. Having well-trained and 
qualified workers performing hyperbaric intervention work ensures that 
they recognize, and respond appropriately to, hyperbaric safety and 
health hazards. These qualification and training requirements enable 
affected workers to cope effectively with emergencies, as well as the 
discomfort and physiological effects of hyperbaric exposure, thereby 
preventing worker injury, illness, and fatalities.
    Paragraph (2)(e) of this proposed condition also would require the 
applicant to provide affected workers with information they can use to 
contact the appropriate healthcare professionals if they believe they 
are developing hyperbaric-related health effects. This requirement 
provides for early intervention and treatment of DCI and other health 
effects resulting from hyperbaric exposure, thereby reducing the 
potential severity of these effects.
Proposed Condition H: Inspections, Tests, and Accident Prevention
    Proposed condition H would require the applicant to develop, 
implement, and operate a program of frequent and regular inspections of 
the EPBTBM's hyperbaric equipment and support systems, and associated 
work areas. This condition would help to ensure the safe operation and 
physical integrity of the equipment and work areas necessary to conduct 
hyperbaric operations. The condition would also enhance worker safety 
by reducing the risk of hyperbaric-related emergencies.
    Paragraph (3) of this proposed condition would require the 
applicant to document tests, inspections, corrective actions, and 
repairs involving the EPBTBM, and maintain these documents at the job 
site for the duration of the job. This requirement would provide the 
applicant with information needed to schedule tests and inspections to 
ensure the continued safe operation of the equipment and systems, and 
to determine that the actions taken to correct defects in hyperbaric 
equipment and systems were appropriate, prior to returning them to 
service.
Proposed Condition I: Compression and Decompression
    This proposed condition would require the applicant to consult with 
its designated medical advisor regarding special compression or 
decompression procedures appropriate for any unacclimated CAW. This 
proposed provision would ensure that the applicant consults with the 
medical advisor, and involves the medical advisor in the evaluation, 
development, and implementation of compression or decompression 
protocols appropriate for any CAW requiring acclimation to the 
hyperbaric conditions encountered during EPBTBM operations. 
Accordingly, CAWs requiring acclimation would have an opportunity to 
acclimate prior to exposure to these hyperbaric conditions. OSHA 
believes this condition would prevent or reduce adverse reactions among 
CAWs to the effects of compression or decompression associated with the 
intervention work they perform in the EPBTBM.
Proposed Condition J: Recordkeeping
    Proposed condition J would require the applicant to maintain 
records of specific factors associated with each hyperbaric 
intervention. The information gathered and recorded under this 
provision, in concert with the information provided under proposed 
condition K (using the OSHA 301 Incident Report form to investigate and 
record hyperbaric recordable injuries as defined by 29 CFR 1904.4, 
1904.7, 1904.8 through 1904.12), would enable the applicant and OSHA to 
determine the effectiveness of the permanent variance in preventing DCI 
and other hyperbaric-related effects.\10\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \10\ See 29 CFR 1904 Recording and Reporting Occupational 
Injuries and Illnesses (http://www.osha.gov/pls/oshaweb/owadisp.show_document?p_table=STANDARDS&p_id=9631); recordkeeping 
forms and instructions (http://www.osha.gov/recordkeeping/RKform300pkg-fillable-enabled.pdf); and OSHA Recordkeeping Handbook 
(http://www.osha.gov/recordkeeping/handbook/index.html).
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

Proposed Condition K: Notifications
    Under this proposed condition, the applicant would be required, 
within specified periods to: (1) Notify OSHA of any recordable 
injuries, illnesses, or

[[Page 73637]]

fatalities that occur as a result of hyperbaric exposures during EPBTBM 
operations; (2) provide OSHA with a copy of the incident investigation 
report (using OSHA 301 form) of these events; (3) include on the 301 
form information on the hyperbaric conditions associated with the 
recordable injury or illness, the root-cause determination, and 
preventive and corrective actions identified and implemented; (4) 
provide its certification that it informed affected workers of the 
incident and the results of the incident investigation; (5) notify the 
Office of Technical Programs and Coordination Activities (OTPCA) and 
the Baltimore/Washington DC Area Office within 15 working days should 
the applicant need to revise its HOM to accommodate changes in its 
compressed-air operations that affect its ability to comply with the 
conditions of the proposed permanent variance; and (6) provide OTPCA 
and the Baltimore/Washington DC Area Office, at the end of the project, 
with a report evaluating the effectiveness of the decompression tables.
    These notification requirements would enable the applicant, its 
employees, and OSHA to determine the effectiveness of the permanent 
variance in providing the requisite level of safety to the applicant's 
workers and, based on this determination, whether to revise or revoke 
the conditions of the proposed permanent variance. Timely notification 
would permit OSHA to take whatever action may be necessary and 
appropriate to prevent further injuries and illnesses. Providing 
notification to employees would inform them of the precautions taken by 
the applicant to prevent similar incidents in the future.
    This proposed condition would also require the applicant to notify 
OSHA if it ceases to do business, has a new address or location for its 
main office, or transfers the operations covered by the proposed 
permanent variance to a successor company. In addition, the condition 
specifies that OSHA must approve the transfer of the permanent variance 
to a successor company. These requirements would allow OSHA to 
communicate effectively with the applicant regarding the status of the 
proposed permanent variance, and expedite the Agency's administration 
and enforcement of the permanent variance. Stipulating that an 
applicant would be required to have OSHA's approval to transfer a 
variance to a successor company would provide assurance that the 
successor company has knowledge of, and will comply with, the 
conditions specified by proposed permanent variance, thereby ensuring 
the safety of workers involved in performing the operations covered by 
the proposed permanent variance.

IV. Grant of Interim Order

    As noted earlier, on July 11, 2013, OSHA granted Traylor JV an 
interim order to remain in effect until completion of the Blue Plains 
tunnel project or until the Agency modifies or revokes the interim 
order or makes a decision on its application for a permanent variance. 
(Ex. OSHA-2012-0035-0007.) Based on Traylor JV's assertions in its 
application, the interim order addresses CAWs performing interventions 
in hyperbaric conditions up to 52 p.s.i.g. that do not involve the use 
of trimix. OSHA affirms the Blue Plains tunnel project-specific interim 
order. During the period starting with the publication of this notice 
until completion of the Blue Plains tunnel or the Agency modifies or 
revokes the interim order or makes a decision on its application for a 
permanent variance, the applicant is required to comply fully with the 
conditions of the interim order (as an alternative to complying with 
the requirements of 29 CFR 1926.803 (hereafter, ``the standard'') that:
    A. Prohibit employers using compressed air under hyperbaric 
conditions from subjecting workers to pressure exceeding 50 p.s.i.g., 
except in emergency (29 CFR 1926.803(e)(5));
    B. Require the use of decompression values specified by the 
decompression tables in Appendix A of the compressed-air standard (29 
CFR 1926.803(f)(1)); and
    C. Require the use of automated operational controls and a special 
decompression chamber (29 CFR 1926.803(g)(1)(iii) and .803(g)(1)(xvii), 
respectively).
    After reviewing the proposed alternatives OSHA preliminarily 
determined that:
    A. Traylor JV developed, and proposed to implement, effective 
alternative measures to the prohibition of using compressed air under 
hyperbaric conditions exceeding 50 p.s.i.g. The alternative measures 
include use of engineering and administrative controls of the hazards 
associated with work performed in compressed-air conditions exceeding 
50 p.s.i.g. while engaged in the construction of a subaqueous tunnel 
using advanced shielded mechanical-excavation techniques in conjunction 
with an EPBTBM. Prior to conducting interventions in the EPBTBM's 
pressurized working chamber, the applicant halts tunnel excavation and 
prepares the machine and crew to conduct the interventions. 
Interventions involve inspection, maintenance, or repair of the 
mechanical-excavation components located in the working chamber.
    B. Traylor JV developed, and proposed to implement, safe hyperbaric 
work procedures, emergency and contingency procedures, and medical 
examinations for the Blue Plains tunneling project's CAWs. The 
applicant compiled these standard operating procedures into a project-
specific HOM (Ex. OSHA-2012-0035-007). The HOM discusses the procedures 
and personnel qualifications for performing work safely during the 
compression and decompression phases of interventions. The HOM also 
specifies the decompression tables the applicant proposes to use. 
Depending on the maximum working pressure and exposure times during the 
interventions, the tables provide for decompression using air, pure 
oxygen, or a combination of air and oxygen. The decompression tables 
also include delays or stops for various time intervals at different 
pressure levels during the transition to atmospheric pressure (i.e., 
staged decompression). In all cases, a physician certified in 
hyperbaric medicine will manage the medical condition of CAWs during 
decompression. In addition, a trained and experienced man-lock 
attendant, experienced in recognizing decompression sickness or 
illnesses and injuries, will be present. Of key importance, a 
hyperbaric supervisor (competent person), trained in hyperbaric 
operations, procedures, and safety, will directly supervise all 
hyperbaric operations to ensure compliance with the procedures 
delineated in the project-specific HOM or by the attending physician.
    C. Traylor JV developed, and proposed to implement, a training 
program to instruct affected workers in the hazards associated with 
conducting hyperbaric operations.
    D. Traylor JV developed, and proposed to implement, an effective 
alternative to the use of automatic controllers that continuously 
decrease pressure to achieve decompression in accordance with the 
tables specified by the standard. The alternative includes using the 
1992 French Decompression Tables for guiding staged decompression to 
achieve lower occurrences of DCI, using a trained and competent 
attendant for implementing appropriate hyperbaric entry and exit 
procedures, and providing a competent hyperbaric supervisor and 
attending physician certified in hyperbaric medicine, to oversee all 
hyperbaric operations.

[[Page 73638]]

    E. Traylor JV developed, and proposed to implement, an effective 
alternative to the use of the special decompression chamber required by 
the standard. EPBTBM technology permits the tunnel's work areas to be 
at atmospheric pressure, with only the face of the EPBTBM (i.e., the 
working chamber) at elevated pressure during interventions. The 
applicant would limit interventions conducted in the working chamber to 
performing required inspection, maintenance, and repair of the cutting 
tools on the face of the EPBTBM. The EPBTBM's man lock and working 
chamber provide sufficient space for the maximum crew of three CAWs to 
stand up and move around, and safely accommodate decompression times up 
to 360 minutes. Therefore, OSHA preliminarily determined that the 
EPBTBM's man lock and working chamber function as effectively as the 
special decompression chamber required by the standard.
    OSHA conducted a review of the scientific literature regarding 
decompression to determine whether the alternative decompression method 
(i.e., the 1992 French Decompression Tables) Traylor JV proposed would 
provide a workplace as safe and healthful as that provided by the 
standard. Based on this review, OSHA determined that tunneling 
operations performed with these tables \11\ resulted in a lower 
occurrence of DCI than the decompression tables specified by the 
standard.12 13 14
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    \11\ In 1992, the French Ministry of Labour replaced the 1974 
French Decompression Tables with the 1992 French Decompression 
Tables, which differ from OSHA's decompression tables in Appendix A 
by using: (1) Staged decompression as opposed to continuous (linear) 
decompression; (2) decompression tables based on air or both air and 
pure oxygen; and (3) emergency tables when unexpected exposure times 
occur (up to 30 minutes above the maximum allowed working time).
    \12\ Kindwall, EP (1997). Compressed air tunneling and caisson 
work decompression procedures: Development, problems, and solutions. 
Undersea and Hyperbaric Medicine, 24(4), pp. 337-345. This article 
reported 60 treated cases of DCI among 4,168 exposures between 19 
and 31 p.s.i.g. over a 51-week contract period, for a DCI incidence 
of 1.44% for the decompression tables specified by the OSHA 
standard.
    \13\ Sealey, JL (1969). Safe exit from the hyperbaric 
environment: Medical experience with pressurized tunnel operations. 
Journal of Occupational Medicine, 11(5), pp. 273-275. This article 
reported 210 treated cases of DCI among 38,600 hyperbaric exposures 
between 13 and 34 p.s.i.g. over a 32-month period, for an incidence 
of 0.54% for the decompression tables specified by the Washington 
State safety standards for compressed-air work, which are similar to 
the tables in the OSHA standard. Moreover, the article reported 51 
treated cases of DCI for 3,000 exposures between 30 and 34 p.s.i.g., 
for an incidence of 1.7% for the Washington State tables.
    \14\ In 1985, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and 
Health (NIOSH) published a report entitled ``Criteria for Interim 
Decompression Tables for Caisson and Tunnel Workers''; this report 
reviewed studies of DCI and other hyperbaric-related injuries 
resulting from use of OSHA's tables. This report is available on 
NIOSH's Web site: http://www.cdc.gov/niosh/topics/decompression/default.html.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    The review conducted by OSHA found several research studies 
supporting the determination that the 1992 French Decompression Tables 
resulted in a lower rate of DCI than the decompression tables specified 
by the standard. For example, H. L. Anderson studied the occurrence of 
DCI at maximum hyperbaric pressures ranging from 4 p.s.i.g. to 43 
p.s.i.g. during construction of the Great Belt Tunnel in Denmark (1992-
1996); \15\ this project used the 1992 French Decompression Tables to 
decompress the workers during part of the construction. Anderson 
observed 6 DCI cases out of 7,220 decompression events, and reported 
that switching to the 1992 French Decompression tables reduced the DCI 
incidence to 0.08%. The DCI incidence in the study by H. L. Andersen is 
substantially less than the DCI incidence reported for the 
decompression tables specified in Appendix A. OSHA found no studies in 
which the DCI incidence reported for the 1992 French Decompression 
Tables were higher than the DCI incidence reported for the OSHA 
decompression tables.\16\ Therefore, OSHA preliminarily concludes that 
the proposed use of the 1992 French Decompression Tables would protect 
workers at least as effectively as the OSHA decompression tables.
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    \15\ Anderson HL (2002). Decompression sickness during 
construction of the Great Belt tunnel, Denmark. Undersea and 
Hyperbaric Medicine, 29(3), pp. 172-188.
    \16\ Le P[eacute]chon JC, Barre P, Baud JP, Ollivier F 
(September 1996). Compressed air work--French Tables 1992--
operational results. JCLP Hyperbarie Paris, Centre Medical 
Subaquatique Interentreprise, Marseille: Communication a l'EUBS, pp. 
1-5 (see Ex. OSHA-2012-0036-0005).
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    Based on a review of available evidence, the experience of State 
Plans that either granted variances (Nevada, Oregon and Washington) 
\17\ or promulgated a new standard (California) \18\ for hyperbaric 
exposures occurring during similar subaqueous tunnel-construction work, 
and the information provided in the applicant's variance application, 
OSHA is proposing the grant of the permanent variance.
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    \17\ See 79 FR 29816, footnote 12.
    \18\ See California Code of Regulations, Title 8, Subchapter 7, 
Group 26, Article 154, available at http://www.dir.ca.gov/title8/sb7g26a154.html.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Under section 6(d) of the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 
1970 (29 U.S.C. 655), the Agency finds that when the employer complies 
with the conditions of the previously granted interim order, or the 
conditions of the proposed variance, the working conditions of the 
employer's workers would be at least as safe and healthful as if the 
employer complied with the working conditions specified by paragraphs 
(e)(5), (f)(1), (g)(1)(iii), and (g)(1)(xvii) of 29 CFR 1926.803. 
Therefore, Traylor JV will: (1) Comply with the conditions listed in 
the Blue Plains tunnel project interim order granted on July 11, 2013, 
for the period between the grant of the interim order and Traylor's 
completion of the Blue Plains tunnel project (or until the Agency 
modifies or revokes the interim order or makes a decision on its 
application for a permanent variance); (2) comply fully with the 
specific conditions of the variance, if granted; (3) comply fully with 
all other applicable provisions of 29 CFR part 1926; and (4) provide a 
copy of this Federal Register notice to all employees affected by the 
proposed conditions, including the affected employees of other 
employers, using the same means it used to inform these employees of 
its application for a permanent variance.

V. Specific Conditions of the Proposed Permanent Variance

    OSHA affirms the previously granted Blue Plains tunnel project 
specific interim order authorizing Traylor/Skanska/Jay Dee Joint 
Venture (``Traylor JV'') to comply with said conditions instead of 
complying with the requirements of paragraphs 29 CFR 1926.803(e)(5), 
(f)(1), (g)(1)(iii), and (g)(1)(xvii). In addition, the proposed 
conditions included in this notice specify the alternative means of 
compliance with the requirements of paragraphs 29 CFR 1926.803(e)(5), 
(f)(1), (g)(1)(iii), and (g)(1)(xvii) that Traylor JV is proposing for 
its permanent variance. The proposed conditions would apply to all 
employees of Traylor JV exposed to hyperbaric conditions. These 
proposed conditions would be:

A. Scope

    The permanent variance would apply only to work:
    1. That occurs in conjunction with construction of the Blue Plains 
tunnel project, a tunnel constructed using advanced shielded 
mechanical-excavation techniques and involving operation of an EPBTBM;
    2. Performed under compressed-air and hyperbaric conditions up to 
52 p.s.i.g;
    3. In the EPBTBM's forward section (the working chamber) and 
associated hyperbaric chambers used to pressurize

[[Page 73639]]

and decompress employees entering and exiting the working chamber;
    4. Except for the requirements specified by 29 CFR 1926.803(e)(5), 
(f)(1), (g)(1)(iii), and (g)(1)(xvii), Traylor JV would be required to 
comply fully with all other applicable provisions of 29 CFR part 1926; 
and

B. Application

    The permanent variance would apply only when Traylor JV stops the 
tunnel-boring work, pressurizes the working chamber, and the CAWs 
either enter the working chamber to perform interventions (i.e., 
inspect, maintain, or repair the mechanical-excavation components), or 
exit the working chamber after performing interventions.

C. List of Abbreviations

    Abbreviations used throughout this proposed permanent variance 
would include the following:

1. CAW--Compressed-air worker
2. CFR--Code of Federal Regulations
3. DCI--Decompression Illness
4. EPBTBM--Earth Pressure Balanced Tunnel Boring Machine
5. HOM--Hyperbaric Operations and Safety Manual
6. JHA--Job hazard analysis
7. OSHA--Occupational Safety and Health Administration
8. OTPCA--Office of Technical Programs and Coordination Activities

D. Definitions

    The following definitions would apply to this proposed permanent 
variance. These definitions would supplement the definitions in Traylor 
JV's project-specific HOM.
    1. Affected employee or worker--an employee or worker who is 
affected by the conditions of this proposed permanent variance, or any 
one of his or her authorized representatives. The term ``employee'' has 
the meaning defined and used under the Occupational Safety and Health 
Act of 1970 (29 U.S.C. 651 et seq.)
    2. Atmospheric pressure--the pressure of air at sea level, 
generally 14.7 p.s.i.a., 1 atmosphere absolute, or 0 p.s.i.g.
    3. Compressed-air worker--an individual who is specially trained 
and medically qualified to perform work in a pressurized environment 
while breathing air at pressures up to 52 p.s.i.g.
    4. Competent person--an individual who is capable of identifying 
existing and predictable hazards in the surroundings or working 
conditions that are unsanitary, hazardous, or dangerous to employees, 
and who has authorization to take prompt corrective measures to 
eliminate them.\19\
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    \19\ Adapted from 29 CFR 1926.32(f).
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    5. Decompression illness (also called decompression sickness or the 
bends)--an illness caused by gas bubbles appearing in body compartments 
due to a reduction in ambient pressure. Examples of symptoms of 
decompression illness include (but are not limited to): Joint pain 
(also known as the ``bends'' for agonizing pain or the ``niggles'' for 
slight pain); areas of bone destruction (termed dysbaric 
osteonecrosis); skin disorders (such as cutis marmorata, which causes a 
pink marbling of the skin); spinal cord and brain disorders (such as 
stroke, paralysis, paresthesia, and bladder dysfunction); 
cardiopulmonary disorders, such as shortness of breath; and arterial 
gas embolism (gas bubbles in the arteries that block blood flow).\20\
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    \20\ See Appendix 10 of ``A Guide to the Work in Compressed Air 
Regulations 1996,'' published by the United Kingdom Health and 
Safety Executive available from NIOSH at http://www.cdc.gov/niosh/docket/archive/pdfs/NIOSH-254/compReg1996.pdf.

    Note:  Health effects associated with hyperbaric intervention 
but not considered symptoms of DCI can include: Barotrauma (direct 
damage to air-containing cavities in the body such as ears, sinuses 
and lungs); nitrogen narcosis (reversible alteration in 
consciousness that may occur in hyperbaric environments and is 
caused by the anesthetic effect of certain gases at high pressure); 
and oxygen toxicity (a central nervous system condition resulting 
from the harmful effects of breathing molecular oxygen 
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
(O2) at elevated partial pressures).

    6. Earth Pressure Balanced Tunnel Boring Machine--the machinery 
used to excavate the tunnel.
    7. Hot work--any activity performed in a hazardous location that 
may introduce an ignition source into a potentially flammable 
atmosphere.\21\
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    \21\ Also see 29 CFR 1910.146(b).
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    8. Hyperbaric--at a higher pressure than atmospheric pressure.
    9. Hyperbaric intervention--a term that describes the process of 
stopping the EPBTBM and preparing and executing work under hyperbaric 
pressure in the working chamber for the purpose of inspecting, 
replacing, or repairing cutting tools and/or the cutterhead structure.
    10. Hyperbaric Operations Manual--a detailed, project-specific 
health and safety plan developed and implemented by Traylor JV for 
working in compressed air during the Blue Plains' tunnel project.
    11. Job hazard analysis--an evaluation of tasks or operations to 
identify potential hazards and to determine the necessary controls.
    12. Man lock--an enclosed space capable of pressurization, and used 
for compressing or decompressing any employee or material when either 
is passing into or out of a working chamber.
    13. Pressure--a force acting on a unit area. Usually expressed as 
pounds per square inch (p.s.i.).
    14. p.s.i.--pounds per square inch, a common unit of measurement of 
pressure; a pressure given in p.s.i. corresponds to absolute pressure.
    15. p.s.i.a.--pounds per square inch absolute, or absolute 
pressure, is the sum of the atmospheric pressure and gauge pressure. At 
sea-level, atmospheric pressure is approximately 14.7 p.s.i. Adding 
14.7 to a pressure expressed in units of p.s.i.g. will yield the 
absolute pressure, expressed as p.s.i.a.
    16. p.s.i.g.--pounds per square inch gauge, a common unit of 
pressure; pressure expressed as p.s.i.g. corresponds to pressure 
relative to atmospheric pressure. At sea-level, atmospheric pressure is 
approximately 14.7 p.s.i. Subtracting 14.7 from a pressure expressed in 
units of p.s.i.a. yields the gauge pressure, expressed as p.s.i.g.
    17. Qualified person--an individual who, by possession of a 
recognized degree, certificate, or professional standing, or who, by 
extensive knowledge, training, and experience, successfully 
demonstrates an ability to solve or resolve problems relating to the 
subject matter, the work, or the project.\22\
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    \22\ Adapted from 29 CFR 1926.32(m).
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    18. Working chamber--an enclosed space in the EPBTBM in which CAWs 
perform interventions, and which is accessible only through a man lock.

E. Safety and Health Practices

    1. Traylor JV would have to develop and implement an HOM specific 
to the Blue Plains project, and submit the HOM to OSHA at least six 
months before using the EPBTBM. Traylor JV would have to receive a 
written acknowledgement from OSHA regarding the acceptability of the 
HOM.\23\ The HOM would provide the governing safety and health 
requirements regarding hyperbaric exposures during the tunnel-
construction project.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \23\ See footnote 9.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    2. Traylor JV would have to implement the safety and health 
instructions included in the manufacturer's operations manuals for the 
EPBTBM, and the safety and health instructions provided by the

[[Page 73640]]

manufacturer for the operation of decompression equipment.
    3. Traylor JV would have to use air as the only breathing gas in 
the working chamber.
    4. Traylor JV would have to use the 1992 French Decompression 
Tables for air, air-oxygen, and oxygen decompression specified in the 
HOM, specifically the extracted portions of the 1992 French 
Decompression tables titled ``French Regulation Air Standard Tables.''
    5. Traylor JV would have to equip man-locks used by its employees 
with an oxygen-delivery system as specified by the HOM. Traylor JV 
would be required to not store oxygen or other compressed gases used in 
conjunction with hyperbaric work in the tunnel.
    6. Workers performing hot work under hyperbaric conditions would 
have to use flame-retardant personal protective equipment and clothing.
    7. In hyperbaric work areas, Traylor JV would have to maintain an 
adequate fire-suppression system approved for hyperbaric work areas.
    8. Traylor JV would have to develop and implement one or more JHAs 
for work in the hyperbaric work areas, and review, periodically and as 
necessary (e.g., after making changes to a planned intervention that 
affects its operation), the contents of the JHAs with affected 
employees. The JHAs would have to include all the job functions that 
the risk assessment \24\ indicates are essential to prevent injury or 
illness.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \24\ See ANSI/AIHA Z10-2012, American National Standard for 
Occupational Health and Safety Management Systems, for reference.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    9. Traylor JV would have to develop a set of checklists to guide 
compressed-air work and ensure that employees follow the procedures 
required by this proposed permanent variance (including all procedures 
required by the HOM, which this proposed variance would incorporate by 
reference). The checklists would have to include all steps and 
equipment functions that the risk assessment indicates are essential to 
prevent injury or illness during compressed-air work.
    10. Traylor JV would have to ensure that the safety and health 
provisions of the HOM adequately protect the workers of all contractors 
and subcontractors involved in hyperbaric operations.\25\
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    \25\ See ANSI/ASSE A10.33-2011, American National Standard for 
Construction and Demolition Operations--Safety and Health Program 
Requirements for Multi-Employer Projects, for reference.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

F. Communication

    1. Prior to beginning a shift, Traylor JV would have to implement a 
system that informs workers exposed to hyperbaric conditions of any 
hazardous occurrences or conditions that might affect their safety, 
including hyperbaric incidents, gas releases, equipment failures, earth 
or rock slides, cave-ins, flooding, fires, or explosions.
    2. Traylor JV would have to provide a power-assisted means of 
communication among affected workers and support personnel in 
hyperbaric conditions where unassisted voice communication is 
inadequate.
    (a) Traylor JV would have to use an independent power supply for 
powered communication systems, and these systems would have to operate 
such that use or disruption of any one phone or signal location will 
not disrupt the operation of the system from any other location.
    (b) Traylor JV would have to test communication systems at the 
start of each shift and as necessary thereafter to ensure proper 
operation.

G. Worker Qualifications and Training

    Traylor JV would have to:
    1. Ensure that each affected worker receives effective training on 
how to safely enter, work in, exit from, and undertake emergency 
evacuation or rescue from, hyperbaric conditions, and document this 
training.
    2. Provide effective instruction, before beginning hyperbaric 
operations, to each worker who performs work, or controls the exposure 
of others, in hyperbaric conditions, and document this instruction. The 
instruction would have to include topics such as:
    (a) The physics and physiology of hyperbaric work;
    (b) Recognition of pressure-related injuries;
    (c) Information on the causes and recognition of the signs and 
symptoms associated with decompression illness, and other hyperbaric 
intervention-related health effects (e.g., barotrauma, nitrogen 
narcosis, and oxygen toxicity).
    (d) How to avoid discomfort during compression and decompression; 
and
    (e) Information the workers can use to contact the appropriate 
healthcare professionals should the workers have concerns that they may 
be experiencing adverse health effects from hyperbaric exposure.
    3. Repeat the instruction specified in paragraph (b) of this 
proposed condition periodically and as necessary (e.g., after making 
changes to its hyperbaric operations).
    4. When conducting training for its hyperbaric workers make this 
training available to OSHA personnel and notify the OTPCA at OSHA's 
national office and OSHA's nearest affected Area Office before the 
training takes place.

H. Inspections, Tests, and Accident Prevention

    1. Traylor JV would have to initiate and maintain a program of 
frequent and regular inspections of the EPBTBM's hyperbaric equipment 
and support systems (such as temperature control, illumination, 
ventilation, and fire-prevention and fire-suppression systems), and 
hyperbaric work areas, as required under 29 CFR 1926.20(b)(2) by:
    (a) Developing a set of checklists to be used by a competent person 
in conducting weekly inspections of hyperbaric equipment and work 
areas; and
    (b) Ensuring that a competent person conducts daily visual checks 
and weekly inspections of the EPBTBM.
    2. If the competent person determines that the equipment 
constitutes a safety hazard, Traylor JV would have to remove the 
equipment from service until it corrects the hazardous condition and 
has the correction approved by a qualified person.
    3. Traylor JV would have to maintain records of all tests and 
inspections of the EPBTBM, as well as associated corrective actions and 
repairs, at the job site for the duration of the job.

I. Compression and Decompression

    Traylor JV would have to consult with its attending physician 
concerning the need for special compression or decompression exposures 
appropriate for CAWs not acclimated to hyperbaric exposure.

J. Recordkeeping

    Traylor JV would have to maintain a record of any recordable 
injury, illness, or fatality (as defined by 29 CFR part 1904 Recording 
and Reporting Occupational Injuries and Illnesses), resulting from 
exposure of an employee to hyperbaric conditions by completing the OSHA 
301 Incident Report form and OSHA 300 Log of Work Related Injuries and 
Illnesses.

    Note: Examples of important information to include on the OSHA 
301 Incident Report form (along with the corresponding question on 
the form) are: The task performed (Question (Q) 14); an estimate of 
the CAW's workload (Q 14); the composition of the gas mixture (e.g., 
air or oxygen (Q 14)); the maximum working pressure (Q 14); 
temperature in the work and decompression environments (Q 14); 
unusual occurrences, if any, during the task or decompression (Q 
14); time of symptom onset (Q 15); duration between decompression 
and onset of symptoms (Q 15); type and duration of symptoms (Q 16); 
a medical summary of the illness or injury (Q 16); duration of the

[[Page 73641]]

hyperbaric intervention (Q 17); possible contributing factors (Q 
17); the number of prior interventions completed by the injured or 
ill CAW (Q 17); the number of prior interventions completed by the 
injured or ill CAW at this working pressure (Q 17); contact 
information for the treating healthcare provider (Q 17); and date 
and time of last hyperbaric exposure for this CAW.

    In addition to completing the OSHA 301 Incident Report form and 
OSHA 300 Log of Work Related Injuries and Illnesses, Traylor JV would 
have to maintain records of:
    1. The date, times (e.g., began compression, time spent 
compressing, time performing intervention, time spent decompressing), 
and pressure for each hyperbaric intervention.
    2. The name of each individual worker exposed to hyperbaric 
pressure and the decompression protocols and results for each worker.
    3. The total number of interventions and the amount of hyperbaric 
work time at each pressure.
    4. The results of the post-intervention physical assessment of each 
CAW for signs and symptoms of decompression illness, barotrauma, 
nitrogen narcosis, oxygen toxicity or other health effects associated 
with work in compressed air for each hyperbaric intervention.

K. Notifications

    1. To assist OSHA in administering the conditions specified herein, 
Traylor JV would have to:
    (a) Notify the OTPCA and the Baltimore/Washington DC Area Office of 
any recordable injury, illness, or fatality (by submitting the 
completed OSHA 301 Incident Report form \26\) resulting from exposure 
of an employee to hyperbaric conditions including those that do not 
require recompression treatment (e.g., nitrogen narcosis, oxygen 
toxicity, barotrauma), but still meet the recordable injury or illness 
criteria of 29 CFR 1904. The notification would have to be made within 
8 hours of the incident or 8 hours after becoming aware of a recordable 
injury, illness, or fatality, and submit a copy of the incident 
investigation (OSHA form 301) within 24 hours of the incident or 24 
hours after becoming aware of a recordable injury, illness, or 
fatality. In addition to the information required by the OSHA form 301, 
the incident-investigation report would have to include a root-cause 
determination, and the preventive and corrective actions identified and 
implemented.
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    \26\ See footnote 10.
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    (b) Provide certification within 15 working days of the incident 
that Traylor JV informed affected workers of the incident and the 
results of the incident investigation (including the root-cause 
determination and preventive and corrective actions identified and 
implemented).
    (c) Notify the OTPCA and the Baltimore/Washington DC Area Office 
within 15 working days and in writing, of any change in the compressed-
air operations that affects Traylor JV's ability to comply with the 
proposed conditions specified herein.
    (d) Upon completion of the Blue Plains tunnel project, evaluate the 
effectiveness of the decompression tables used throughout the project, 
and provide a written report of this evaluation to the OTPCA and the 
Baltimore/Washington DC Area Office.

    Note: The evaluation report would have to contain summaries of: 
(1) The number, dates, durations, and pressures of the hyperbaric 
interventions completed; (2) decompression protocols implemented 
(including composition of gas mixtures (air and/or oxygen), and the 
results achieved; (3) the total number of interventions and the 
number of hyperbaric incidents (decompression illnesses and/or 
health effects associated with hyperbaric interventions as recorded 
on OSHA 301 and 300 forms, and relevant medical diagnoses and 
treating physicians' opinions); and (4) root causes of any 
hyperbaric incidents, and preventive and corrective actions 
identified and implemented.

    (e) To assist OSHA in administering the proposed conditions 
specified herein, inform the OTPCA and the Baltimore/Washington DC Area 
Office as soon as possible after it has knowledge that it will:
    (i) Cease to do business;
    (ii) Change the location and address of the main office for 
managing the tunneling operations specified herein; or
    (iii) Transfer the operations specified herein to a successor 
company.
    (f) Notify all affected employees of this proposed permanent 
variance by the same means required to inform them of its application 
for a variance.
    2. OSHA would have to approve the transfer of the proposed 
permanent variance to a successor company.

VI. Authority and Signature

    David Michaels, Ph.D., MPH, Assistant Secretary of Labor for 
Occupational Safety and Health, 200 Constitution Avenue NW., 
Washington, DC 20210, authorized the preparation of this notice. 
Accordingly, the Agency is issuing this notice pursuant to Section 29 
U.S.C. 655(6)(d), Secretary of Labor's Order No. 1-2012 (77 FR 3912, 
Jan. 25, 2012), and 29 CFR 1905.11.

    Signed at Washington, DC, on December 5, 2014.
David Michaels,
Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health.
[FR Doc. 2014-28994 Filed 12-10-14; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 4510-26-P