The work of a shipbreaker can be a true nightmare in some parts of the world. There are famous shipbreaking yards known for their lax safety and health standards, and these places tend to give the work a very bad reputation. (YouTube, 2011) They are places where environmental pollutants are not handled properly and where workers are put at risk for injury and death each day. Fortunately, things are far different for those working as shipbreakers in the United States. However, this does not mean that the work is without risk of injury.
After all, shipbreaking is exactly as it sounds – taking apart ships and salvaging materials when necessary. That means that workers are walking around on a vessel that is slowly being torn apart, and this automatically means that accidents can happen. Because of the risks, there are maritime laws and safety standards that must be followed.
Consider that it is not just the dangers of a weakened structure collapsing beneath the feet of those disassembling it, but also that asbestos is often present, that explosions and electrocutions are possible, that dangerous chemical leaks can occur, and more. Slip and fall accidents, hearing losses, crushing injuries, back and head injuries, and a long list of other health problems can all occur or be encountered during shipbreaking work. This is why groups like OSHA (the Occupational Safety and Health Administration) demand such rigid safety standards of employers and vessel owners.
Naturally, OSHA cannot be on site at all times, and this opens the door for negligence of one kind or another. The untrained worker sent to do a job they should not do, the machinery that has not been properly inspected and which fails at the wrong moment, or the worker who has been pressured to do too many shifts without a break who is so fatigued they make a catastrophic error are all just basic examples of negligence.
There are many other ways that negligence can occur, and even when it was due to the most innocent or unknowing decisions, the need to compensate those injured (or their surviving dependents) exists. Unfortunately, few vessel owners, employers, or other parties want to stand up and admit negligence. This has a lot of severe outcomes apart from financial liabilities.
Because of this, it is up to those injured to somehow prove that negligence played a major role in the accident and that compensation is due. And this is the primary reason why those injured have to get in touch with a knowledgeable maritime attorney as soon as possible.
There are laws that are in place in order to reduce the threats of accidents and injuries, and then there are maritime laws (like the Jones Act, among others) in place for the times after an injury or loss has occurred. These laws are to be used when negligence has led to an accident, and they ensure that the fullest compensation possible is received. As indicated, it is up to the victims to prove the negligence, and this is where a skilled attorney comes in handy. They understand the many ways that accidents have occurred during shipbreaking procedures, and they will be able to explore every possible point.
Your job doing shipbreaking work is dangerous, but you must not just accept any injuries or losses as part of the job. There are rules in place to uphold safety and prevent accidents, and when someone is negligent, you can rightfully pursue compensation. A good attorney is your best resource for succeeding in your cause.