May 2013 #2



Back injuries are one of the most common amongst seafarers. There are any number of ways to injure your back while working aboard a vessel. At the top of the list is pulling on lines as well as lifting. Lifting excessive weight or lifting without proper body posture is a recipe for harm. Years ago a seaman was expected to lift as much as 100 pounds. That number dropped to 70 and now, depending upon which source one consults, is down to a lesser number.

In recent years, the number of back injuries is on the rise due to the reduction in manning aboard vessels and the lack of assistance for many tasks. When in doubt as to the weight of an object or the strain of a task, be sure to ask for help! Always report your injury!


I have undergone surgery for a herniated disc in my low back. Will this preclude me from returning to sea once my rehabilitation treatment is complete?

Derek P. Mobile


Any history of intervertebral disc surgery within the last 5 years is subject to "Medical Condition Subject to Further Review". It would require an orthopedic, physical medicine or neurosurgery consultation with a functional capacity examination and testing, as well as itemization of medications with any side effects, and a list of restrictions and prognosis. There are many seafarers who have undergone such a procedure and returned to full duty. Keep in mind, however, that your work is considered heavy in nature and each case may have a different outcome.

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For more than four decades, merchant mariners, longshoremen, fishermen and harbor workers plying their trades at sea, on the docks, on our U.S. coastal waters and inland waterways have turned to the maritime law firm of Lyle C. Cavin, Jr. & Associates in Oakland. Today, we are proud to be recognized as one of the preeminent maritime law firms serving injured marine workers nationwide, as well as one of the most successful personal injury litigation firms serving victims of negligence in the San Francisco Bay Area and throughout the West Coast.

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