We’ve spent some time on this blog discussing some of the most common ways that those who work at sea are injured. But how common are these kinds of injuries? They occur with more frequency than you may think. In fact, some studies have shown that more than 9,000 people were injured onboard vessels during a 5-year period from 2011 to 2016. Several people are killed in these accidents each year, too.
While that may not seem like a lot given the time period involved, the truth of the matter is that this death and injury rate is higher than many other occupations in the United States. There may be multiple factors contributing to this increased risk, including the following:
- An increased risk of repetitive stress injury caused by consistent movements, such as lifting heavy objects.
- Falling overboard when the sea swells or when a ship gets caught in a storm.
- More exposure to dangerous chemicals that pose a risk of spillage and fire that can result in serious burns.
- Frequent slips, trips, and falls that may be attributable to unsteady footing as the vessel rocks and wet floors.
- Pinching and crushing injuries caused by improper use of machinery or a lack of training on how to safely use machinery.
There are a lot of other ways that you can be hurt on a seafaring vessel, which is why if you work on one of these ships you need to know what you can do to protect yourself.
Tips for staying safe while working on a vessel
Even though working on a ship can be extraordinarily dangerous, there are things that you can do to be proactive in protecting your health and safety. Those steps include each of the following:
- Wear non-slip shoes that are suitable for wet conditions.
- Wear gloves to protect your hands from cuts and burns.
- Wear a helmet when needed.
- Ensure that you know how to use all machinery that you’re tasked with utilizing.
- Don’t be afraid to ask for additional training and safety equipment.
- Stay aware of your surroundings so that you can identify and avoid burn and shock hazards.
- Avoid working alone if possible, and if it’s not possible, make sure that you remain in communication with your team.
- Make sure your work area is properly lit, even if using a flashlight to do so.
- Stay away from moving machinery if you’re not the one using it.
- Wear ear protection to keep yourself safe from loud noises.
- Conduct a risk assessment before entering a confined space.
- Voice your concerns about safety issues to your supervisor.
- Avoid spilled substances, making sure that you notify your superior so that corrective action can be taken immediately to protect other workers.
- Wear warm clothes that are insulated if you’re going to be working in cold conditions.
These are just some of the steps that you can take. Really think through what else you can do to protect yourself at work so that you can avoid being injured and having to deal with the realities involved with workplace harm.
Help is here when you need it
We hope that your employer provides you with the workplace protections that you need to stay safe. And maybe your proactiveness will further insulate you from harm. But if despite these efforts something goes wrong and you end up injured in a workplace accident, you might want to consider taking legal action to offset your damages. If you find yourself in that position, please know that law firms that are experienced with Jones Act claims are prepared to go to battle for an outcome that you deserve.