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Are Maritime Workers at Risk of Contracting Infectious Diseases While Working Aboard a Vessel?

Maritime Injuries Nov 2, 2020

Maritime workers are injured each year due to various issues such as unseaworthy vessels, oily decks, fire hazards, and dangerous weather conditions, among other reasons.  One risk that maritime workers are exposed to that is not discussed quite as frequently involves workers contracting communicable (or infectious) diseases, such as COVID-19, while working aboard a vessel.  If you or a loved one became seriously ill after contracting an infectious disease while working aboard a vessel, the experienced maritime attorneys at Willis Law Firm can help you or your loved one obtain compensation for your work-related illness.  Our firm is dedicated to protecting injured maritime workers

Unmasking Communicable Diseases Aboard Vessels

Unfortunately, seamen work in conditions favorable for the spread of infectious diseases, including but not limited to COVID-19, Influenza, Norovirus, Hepatitis A, and Legionnaires’ Disease, among other contagious diseases.  Seamen work aboard vessels in confined spaces where workers commonly share close quarters.  Sometimes working conditions aboard vessels are unsanitary, which causes germs to spread rampantly.  

Shipowners and operators must ensure that the vessels that seamen are working on are safe, clean, and healthy. Accordingly, owners/operators must follow safety guidelines and regulations and communicate policies and procedures for maintaining a safe work environment to the crew working aboard a vessel, including those related to preventing the spread of infectious diseases (like COVID-19). 

Although no one can totally control the spread of a disease, they can take several precautions to prevent its spread aboard a vessel, such as the following:

  • Provide proper disinfectant products and require the crew to routinely disinfect frequently-touched surfaces around the vessel, such as tables, doorknobs, phones, and faucets, and places such as kitchens, bathrooms, and other high traffic areas,
  • Train crew on following food safety and preparation guidelines (such as washing hands with soap and water before preparing food, disinfecting work surfaces, and cooking food at proper temperatures, among other food safety protocols),
  • Require everyone aboard the vessel to use antibacterial soap when washing hands,
  • Take temperatures of crew members (and require the crew to report certain symptoms) before boarding the vessel to ensure sick crew members do not depart on a voyage and risk infecting other crew members, 
  • Follow other safety protocols as recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Many maritime injuries and illnesses, such as communicable diseases, are avoidable if ship owners and operators, as well as crew members, follow specific safety procedures and guidelines.  If you are a maritime worker who caught an infectious disease while working aboard a vessel, an experienced maritime accident lawyer at Willis Law Firm can help you.  

Next Steps: Contact a Maritime Accident Attorney at Willis Law Firm Today for a Free Case Evaluation

Our team will review your case free of charge. During your initial meeting with our firm, we will answer your questions and outline all the legal options available to you. Contact an experienced maritime accident attorney at Willis Law Firm today at 1-800-468-4878 or email us through our online webform to find out more about your legal rights and options.

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