Maritime occupations are considered some of the most dangerous jobs across all industries. The Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) defines maritime industry occupations as any work done supporting the construction, repair, or scrapping of vessels, as well as the movement of cargo and other materials. The nature of the work required is physically grueling, and the potential for serious accidents is what earns the maritime industry its distinction as one of the most dangerous for employees. While natural disasters can incite accidents that cause life altering injuries or even death among maritime workers, many offshore accidents are unfortunately preventable when companies and their workers follow proper safety and inspection routines and regulations. Common areas of weakness where maritime employers fail their workers with regard to workplace safety include:
Equipment and Machinery
Maritime occupations rely heavily on equipment performing as intended as they are often without replacement equipment. When a vessel’s equipment fails, the lives of everyone supporting the work are at risk for serious injury or death. Barges, ships, and oil rigs are designed to be outfitted with equipment that has the ability to weather the treacherous conditions often faced at sea; however, the equipment is only as good as its owner. Equipment failure can occur without routine inspections and maintenance. Equipment used at sea is especially sensitive and requires more thorough inspections to ensure the safety of all on board. Unfortunately, many employers bypass these essential inspections to save money and time. When employers choose to be lackluster about vessel safety, it often leads to mechanical problems such as engine failure that can have devastating effects on a vessel’s crew.
Explosions and Fires
Explosions and fires at sea can be common due to hazardous chemicals being handled and transported by vessels. Highly flammable and combustible chemicals are sensitive and any mishap could ignite a fire. It is extremely important that any equipment being used with such chemicals be routinely inspected for leaks or other means of escape so chemicals do not come in contact with each other or with the outside environment, including employees. Chemicals should undergo their own inspections to ensure dirty chemicals or contaminated chemicals are not used.
Slips, Trips, and Falls
It may sound dramatic, but even the smallest slip, trip, or fall offshore could result in a career-ending injury or death. When it comes to occupations onboard a vessel, the environment typically includes heavy machinery and equipment, as well as the danger of falling overboard. An employee could suffer a devastating blow if they were to slip and come into contact with equipment or machinery. Additionally, if routine inspection is not being performed, such as inspecting ladders, an employee could easily fall and suffer a catastrophic injury.
Inadequate Safety Efforts
Many maritime accidents have their beginnings in a lack of routine inspection and maintenance. Along with necessary maintenance, routine inspection of safety guidelines and training is required in order to provide a safe work environment. Vessels and rigs should be prepared to outfit their employees with proper personal protective equipment as well as emergency safety equipment such as lifeboats and life preservers. Employers who under-stock these essential items knowingly put employees’ lives at risk.
All workers have the right to perform their jobs in environments free of danger. Serious accidents occur often on vessels and rigs that can prevent an employee from returning to work. If you or a loved one was injured or killed as a result of a maritime accident, you may be entitled to compensation for your injuries and medical bills. There is limited time to act following your accident, so contact us today for a free consultation.