Working in the maritime industry is inherently dangerous. There’s the bulky equipment, heavy cargo, rough waters, and — among other conditions that make it dangerous — adverse weather. It’s no wonder the Bureau of Labor statistics indicate that the maritime industry is home to the highest levels of injuries and fatalities of any other industry. Our Ft Lauderdale maritime lawyer can attest to these statistics as well. We have represented numerous maritime clients who have been injured or who have had a loved one killed while working in the industry, whether the injury was sustained on a ship or a dock, the injuries were mostly severe and sometimes fatal.
Five Most Common Accidents in the Maritime Industry
Five of the most common accidents that occur in the maritime industry have the capacity to produce serious, life-threatening injuries.
- Man Overboard. The most common accident that occurs in the maritime industry is a worker falling overboard into the ocean. Seamen are generally trained how to proceed when a man goes overboard, but rough water and unexpected weather can cause serious problems to any rescue attempt. Drowning is common. Sometimes, however, man overboard is meant to happen, as in the case of divers. Maritime divers who dive deep into the water near or around offshore facilities are in particular danger, and in fact, they have one of the highest fatality rates of all maritime occupations.
- Enclosed Spaces. There are procedures a seaman must follow when entering enclosed spaces, but those procedures are often neglected, and sometimes that neglect is to the seaman’s detriment. Trapped gases or toxic fumes can endanger the seaman’s life, and in fact, it does more often than you might expect.
- Equipment defects or failures. Equipment used in the maritime industry can be anything from a screwdriver to massive cranes. When equipment is faulty due to defect or other reason, accidents are bound to happen. For instance, cranes are used on land and on ships, and given the very nature of the environment, operating these hulky machines is inherently dangerous, but if there’s a defect, operation of the machine places the operator and his co-workers in greater peril. For example, if there’s a faulty wire and a crane operator loses control of the crane, the crane operator or other personnel can suffer irreparable physical or life-threatening injuries.
- Slip and/or Falls. These are some of the most common accidents, and resulting injuries are on a continuum from a bruised ego to death. During any activity, a slip can happen. You are around water, and water makes everything slippery. There are cables and ropes and other things that are in the way to cause trips. Falling from heights is a serious risk, and if you fall onto a platform or into the ocean, the resulting bodily injuries are towards to fatal end of the spectrum. Almost anything can result from a slip and fall in the maritime industry.
- Electrical Accidents. Electricity and water never mix, but there’s a lot of electrical wiring happening in the maritime industry, and it’s all located in or around the water. Electrical equipment is used for many purposes, and it can be stationed either on a dock or on a deck. Live wires or a machine with poor insulation are a high risk for electricians in the maritime industry. The risk of electric shocks also occur during explosions and fires that result from overheated electrical equipment. The best you can hope for are severe burns, but death by electric shock is a very real possibility.
Staying Safe in the Maritime Industry
There is no one magical thing to do to stay safe when working on, in or near the ocean. If you work in the industry or are thinking about it because it is so very lucrative, and opportunities are numerous, then you should be aware of the possibility of any one of the above accidents occurring. Knowledge could be the key to your safety. Always abide by the proper protocol that you were trained to follow. And always remain alert.
Our Ft Lauderdale maritime lawyers can tell you definitively that it is imperative you maintain safe practices and stay aware of your surroundings. If you are injured in any capacity while working, it is in your best interests to contact an experienced Ft Lauderdale maritime lawyer. We know that most accidents are preventable, and most are caused by negligence. Regardless if fault was involved, however, as a seaman, you have options for compensation. A Ft Lauderdale maritime lawyer can help.