Perhaps one of the most dangerous of the maritime industries is commercial diving. A 2013 article provided a shocking set of statistics related to the field, and said that, “Commercial divers are dying at a rate that is 40 times greater than all other workers, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention,” (Thomas, 2013). Because the work is not officially categorized as hazardous, there is also a bit of laxity and lack of formal regulations.
However, there are some laws in place to protect anyone harmed during commercial diving accidents. Known as the Jones Act and under other federal maritime laws, these protections guarantee compensation to any worker who is injured (or to their surviving dependents) if the issue is caused by negligence.
Because there are some weaknesses in the rules around commercial diving, it can be tough to prove that a problem occurred due to negligence, and this is why anyone harmed in a commercial diving accident must seek a maritime lawyer as soon as they can.
It is important to remember or keep in mind that, although there is a perceived weakness in the regulations, there are indeed federal standards that a vessel owner or employer has to follow. Groups like OSHA as well as the Coast Guard have rules for commercial diving operations, and if these are proven to have been ignored or somehow broken, then it becomes negligence.
Remember too that any of the standards for any maritime industry will still apply to a commercial diving operation. The need for adequate training before going to work, the need for seaworthy vessels, and the need for properly maintained and repaired gear and equipment are also essential. Should the vessel owner or the employer fail to perform these basic duties, they are likely to be seen as negligent.
Additionally, you are supposed to have obtained a certain level of expertise and certification before being hired to do certain work. If your employer fails to enforce these standards, it is negligence on their part. It is also negligence if they did not ensure that you had all of the basic training, like CPR or first aid. No dives are to be done without a qualified team of supervisors and technicians as well, and they too have to be fully certified and experienced.
As you can see, there are many ways that an employer may fail to meet the most basic safety standards and be deemed negligent under the laws. When this is the case, they must compensate those who were injured during the performance of their duties – or they must compensate the surviving dependents.
Whether working on an oilrig, on the docks, in a shipyard, or in any other maritime setting, these laws and safety standards apply. Working in the maritime industry alone is risky, but adding further challenges by working beneath the waters and relying on complex equipment to breathe and do your work is quite enough. Being asked to take on further risks by working without proper training, support, or functional gear is irresponsible, illegal and negligent.
For those who know they have been harmed in a commercial diving accident due to negligence, or even if they feel it may have been a case of negligence, it is imperative to meet with a maritime lawyer to discuss the case. A knowledgeable legal expert can provide victims with clarity and support and can help them obtain the compensation that is rightfully theirs under the established laws.