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Common Slip, Trip, and Fall Hazards for Maritime Workers

Maritime Injuries Nov 23, 2020

Maritime work is dangerous.  In fact, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, maritime workers, especially those in marine terminals and ports, have a higher fatality, injury, and illness rate than other categories of workers in the United States.  From 2011-2017, the CDC reported that maritime worker deaths occurred at an annual rate of 15.9 per 100,000 workers (a rate five times that of the U.S. workforce overall).  The nonfatal injury rate for maritime workers is double that of the U.S. workforce overall.  

Because such work is so dangerous, safety aboard a vessel is key to preventing injuries. Vessel owners and operators must follow numerous safety laws, guidelines, and regulations established by governmental entities such as the U.S. Coast Guard and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA)These, and other governmental agencies, put together free safety resources to help vessel owners and operators exercise safety aboard their vessels to reduce workers’ injuries.  Below are some sample resources available for free:

Deck Barge Safety 

Safety and Health Regulations for Longshoring

Equipment Approval

Standards Development

Unfortunately, even with safety regulations and free safety resources, owners and operators sometimes fail to maintain a safe and seaworthy vessel, which causes accidents and injuries to maritime workers that could have been prevented. Common accidents and injuries sustained by workers include slips and falls from oily deck surfaces, falling off defective ladders, severe back injuries from lifting heavy cables and lines, fractured and broken bones, drowning from falling overboard, amputated limbs, exposures to toxic chemicals (such as benzene, xylene, and gasoline, among others), and sometimes even death. One of the leading accidents to cause injuries to maritime workers is slips, trips, and falls by maritime workers aboard a vessel.

What Causes Slips, Trips, and Falls on Vessels and How Can They Be Prevented?

Slips, trips, and falls on vessels can occur for numerous reasons.  Some common causes include:

  • Oily deck surfaces
  • Deck openings not correctly closed or dangerous work areas not adequately marked 
  • Hoses, service lines, or other equipment such as cables running across decks creating a tripping hazard
  • Vessels navigating through rough waters (sometimes due to extreme changes in weather conditions)

Even though not all injuries can be prevented, vessel owners and operators, as well as crew members, can do various things to avoid injuries, such as: properly cleaning up spills (especially oil spills) immediately, installing handrails where appropriate, wearing appropriate safety gear (including footwear), closing deck openings, removing unnecessary obstructions from decks, installing proper safety signs to identify hazards quickly, and adequately training crew on safety protocols, among other measures.  

A vessel owner and operator may be legally responsible for work-related injuries sustained by their workers. If you are a maritime worker injured from a slip and fall aboard a vessel, the maritime injury lawyers at Willis Law Firm can explain your legal rights and help you obtain the compensation you deserve for the injuries you incurred.  Our attorneys fight for injured maritime workers and put our clients’ interests first.  

Were You Hurt from a Slip and Fall Aboard a Vessel? If So, the Maritime Lawyers at Willis Law Firm Can Help!

Were you seriously injured from a slip and fall accident aboard a vessel in the navigable waters? If so, you may be entitled to compensation for your injuries. The maritime accident attorneys at Willis Law Firm can answer your questions about maritime law and possible damages.  Don’t delay.  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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