The maritime industry is without a doubt one of the most dangerous industries to work in. Workers in this industry are exposed to virtually every kind of safety risk there is. Ships on the open ocean are obviously subject to the elements, and those who support the industry from onshore have their own safety issues to be concerned with too. Virtually any safety issue you can think of is at play in the maritime industry, but here are some of the most important:
Those who work in the maritime industry use a wide variety of equipment and heavy machinery. When this equipment and heavy machinery is defective, accidents and injuries are the result. Such products can include everything from a forklift used to load and unload cargo from a ship, to a trawling net used on a commercial fishing vessel.
Just like any other employer, those operating businesses in the maritime industry are required to provide adequate safety training to their employees. This is vitally important due to the myriad safety risks that are posed to maritime workers in the course of going about their jobs. When adequate training isn’t provided, bad things can and will happen.
There are a variety of different chemicals employed in the maritime industry. These chemicals are used to clean things like fuel tanks, they can be the byproduct of the decomposition of living material, and they can come from products and equipment. Just as in any industry, these toxic chemicals pose safety risks to workers, and steps must be taken to limit exposure.
Boats require large quantities of fuel to operate, and offshore sites are most often involved with the task of extracting flammable oil from the earth. Because of this, explosions are all too common in the maritime industry. Sometimes they occur due negligence on the part of an employer or a machine operator, and other times they occur due to defective products or parts.
In the maritime industry, this is the ultimate safety issue. A vessel sinking can occur for a myriad of reasons. In some cases, the operator of a vessel may navigate the vessel recklessly or fail to heed warnings of severe weather. In other cases, a vessel may sink due to being improperly designed, lacking important design elements that combat the boat taking on water.
The maritime industry is, of course, subject to the rules and regulations of the Occupational Safety and Hazard Association. But other laws further regulate safety in this industry. The Jones act exists to protect workers who earn their livelihood on seagoing vessels. There is also the Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act. This law is in place to protect the rights of maritime workers who support the industry from onshore.
Because both of these laws are in place, maritime workers are entitled to seek compensation when they are injured in accidents during the course of their duties. Depending upon the circumstances of the accident, as well as where the accident took place, both or either law may apply, in addition to other laws that govern negligence. In the case of onshore and offshore workers, it is important to note that state worker’s compensations may sometimes apply and trump those of the Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act.
Further, since injuries in the maritime industry can sometimes result from defective products or vessel construction, workers can seek compensation and damages from manufacturers. Whatever the circumstance and factors of any given accident may be though, it is always advisable to retain the services of a qualified maritime attorney, one who can navigate the often complex and contradictory laws and pursue damages and compensation from all responsible parties.