Many people who do not work in the maritime industry wonder how barge accidents occur. After all, most barges require a tugboat and are not self-propelled. In other words, they don’t move quickly or go through dangerous waters.
So, how on earth can they pose a threat to workers? Actually, they are some of the most dangerous places for those in the maritime industries to work. Statistics from OSHA point out that hundreds of people have died, or been injured in barge related accidents. Even floating next to docks they can be dangerous enough to cause deaths. (OSHA.gov, 2015)
Because of the frequency of serious accidents relating to them, barges seem to have many safety procedures and protocols in place. It is the responsibility of the owners and employers to make sure the crews know how to maintain safety and compliance, at all times. If someone is injured in a barge accident, one of the first things to consider is how the incident occurred, and whether negligence played a role in it.
Why is that important? There are many safety standards to prevent accidents, but after something has happened, there are several laws in place to protect those injured. Particularly, when an owner or employer was negligent and it led to the problem.
It is helpful to remember that there are many ways that barge accidents can harm those who work in the maritime industry. The most common are slip and fall accidents, due to tripping hazards, ice, fluids, lack of non-skid applications, faulty repairs, and more.
There are also many different types of equipment and cargo dangers on barges. Some carry flammable or dangerous cargo that can catch fire and explode. Some carry loads that can shift and cause crush injuries or deaths. There is also a lot of equipment associated with a barge itself, and if employees are not qualified or trained properly, it can lead to accidents.
Because some of the cargoes are dangerous and include everything from explosives to chemical compounds, the risk of exposure to toxic materials exists. So too does exposure to fire and explosion injuries as well.
Even with so many threats and possible dangers, the laws are designed to reduce risks to minimal levels. When things do occur and people are injured, it becomes a matter of determining who is to blame, and who is liable. This is usually a complicated matter, and ends up being a legal struggle, as many employers or vessel owners do not want to assume full liability for something as serious as a barge accident, or any injuries that result. However, if there has been a failure to train employees, maintain a vessel, or somehow meet the safety guidelines, then it is the responsibility of the owner or employer to provide compensation to those injured, or to the surviving dependents of those killed.
There are many documented barge accidents, and more on the record each year. This says that there are still too many ways that maritime workers are vulnerable and at risk. If you have been injured in a barge accident, there are laws ensuring you receive compensation. If you know that the accident was not your fault and was due to some sort of negligence on the part of a vessel owner, employer, or other third party, you need the help of a maritime lawyer to build your case and get what is due to you for your injury or loss.