Commercial shipping is among the world’s most dangerous industries. Even though humans have sailed for thousands of years, we have not yet tamed the sea, nor rid our ships of all possible hazards.
That means you want to stay mindful of the dangers that surround you. You work to make a living, and you can’t allow injuries to interrupt your income. But you can reduce the chances of any such interruption by learning the most common causes of shipboard injuries and by learning your options for recovery.
5 common causes of shipboard injuries
You can avoid most injuries by being careful. You receive safety training for a reason. But accidents still happen. Some of the most shipboard injuries include:
- Falls. Wet decks, stairs and catwalks can become slippery. Ship owners need to provide adequate grating, signage and training. You should have proper harnesses for any work you do at dangerous heights.
- Chemical exposure. Commercial vessels transport a wide range of materials, and many of them can be harmful. Additionally, the chemicals used to clean ships can also be highly caustic, and older ships often contain asbestos, a known carcinogen.
- Electrocution. Electricity and water don’t mix, but there are plenty of reasons you may need to use electrical equipment on deck. Any frayed wire or bad connection could lead to a serious burn.
- Crushing. As Marine Insight notes, crane and lift accidents are an all-too-common part of the shipping industry. No one wants a load to fall onto them or slam into them. Only properly trained and qualified crew should operate cranes and lifts.
- Bad tools. Many tools used aboard ships, such as jet-chisels and pneumatic wire brushes, can be dangerous. You can do your part to avoid injury by using the right tools and wearing appropriate clothing. But you might still get hurt if the tool’s faulty. Burns and cuts are common results.
You already want to do everything you can to stay safe. Now that you know these common causes of shipboard injuries, you can do even more—by avoiding situations where accidents are more likely.
What if you can’t avoid an accident?
State laws may not apply when you’re out at sea. That means most sailors’ claims aren’t covered by workers’ compensation, but by maritime law. And most of your key protections stem from the Jones Act, which requires your employer to provide a safe workspace.
Claims made under the Jones Act work something like personal injury claims but have slightly different standards of proof. They also rely on different laws, which makes it important for injured seamen to work with attorneys seasoned in maritime cases.