What Causes Maritime Accidents?

Years of research and numerous statistics show that the offshore industry is responsible for some of the most dangerous work environments in the world. Every day, offshore workers are put at serious risk as they show up for work in environments that are often life-threatening—facing the alarming reality that they could sustain injury or death if applicable standards and work regulations are not followed closely. The question is: How well are those safety guidelines being followed? Unfortunately, the data seems to suggest that employers are not doing all they can to protect maritime workers from sustaining serious injuries while working offshore.

Do Offshore Employers Follow Safety Regulations?

Studies show that about 70% of all accidents that occur offshore are the result of negligence or non-compliance of regulations by either the employers or employees on the job site. This sobering statistic shows that many devastating injuries and losses of life on offshore job sites could be prevented if employers and workers exercised a little more care.

Accidents that happen as the result of human error include, but are not limited to:

  • Fires
  • Pollution
  • Collisions
  • Trips and falls / slips and falls
  • Improper operation of heavy machinery
  • Electrocution / electric shock
  • Falling objects

Essentially, all of these preventable accidents are caused by a manager and / or worker who failed to abide by the federal safety standards that have been mandated by the government for maritime workers.

In many cases, human errors also lead to mechanical errors due to a variety of issues, such as:

  • Improper training
  • Carelessness
  • Lack of equipment maintenance
  • Failure to monitor equipment for potential problems
  • Lack of company communication about the devices and appropriate procedures
  • Lack of protective equipment for the devices

Why Are So Many Injuries Happening Offshore?

Although it is true that there are more and more untrained or poorly trained maritime workers entering the field, the majority of workers are competent in their areas. So why, then, are people getting injured on the job so frequently?

There are a few reasons that may explain these tragic accidents and subsequent injuries or death, including these four reasons:

  1. Manning issues
  2. Ship design errors
  3. Operating standards that are not complied with
  4. Lack of unified standards within the maritime industry

Let’s look at these issues in greater detail.

Cause 1: Manning Issues Include Fatigue Caused by Overworking

Manning issues in the industry constitute a common cause for accidents and injuries, often linking back to workers’ fatigue or complacency with their jobs. Offshore work is draining, and in many situations, seamen are being overworked, which causes them to be overtired on the job. This leads to a multitude of preventable mistakes.

Worker fatigue is especially unsafe when those workers are responsible for handling dangerous and complex equipment. In many cases, this situation can lead to their own injury or that of others. In other words: worker fatigue can often be traced back to employers who fail to regulate work hours properly.

In some cases, even if the employer wants to encourage healthy shift hours, there may be crews that are understaffed, forcing the workers who are on the site to put in long hours every day. Equipment efficiency is another huge factor; many job sites have outdated machinery. While the newest or nicest equipment may cost more money, if it is going to get the job done and save the lives of workers, it is certainly worth it.

Cause 2: Poor Ship Design Affects Crew Safety

Ship design is a huge factor when it comes to the efficiency of an offshore crew and its safety. Today, shipbuilding is often completed by a team of trained seafarers who understand the ways of the water and the necessities for a ship within their industry. When a ship is not properly built for the demands of the job, seamen are placed at risk.

Cause 3: Failure to Adhere to Operating Standards Causes Injury

Operating standards onboard these ships constitute another huge factor, and one that could be responsible for many of the accidents and serious injuries that occur within the maritime industry. There are numerous complicated machines and pieces of equipment that need to be used on a ship in order for it to function as designed. When workers or employees are not properly educated in how these machines work, it can lead to disastrous accidents.

Ensuring that easy-to-understand user manuals in the proper language are made available onboard is a small thing that employers can do to protect their crews, but it is one that may play a huge role in offshore workers being able to work in safe environments. In many cases, the types of human error that too often lead to horrific accidents and fatalities onboard ships can be traced to a lack of basic training in the operation of offshore equipment and machinery. It is the responsibility of the company as well as managers on board to ensure that their crews are adequately trained in the field before setting off to work, potentially placing the lives of others at risk.

Cause 4: The Need for Unified Industry Standards

Another cause of offshore accidents is the lack of unified standards within the industry. Without a unified standard regarding how certain equipment ought to be handled, individual employers and crews may utilize different methods. This lack of communication can lead to accidents. Equipment manufacturers, federal regulators, and other maritime industry leaders may be the ones who are unable to come to a consensus in these areas, but it is maritime workers who are going to suffer the consequences on the job—possibly even with their lives.

Discuss Your Case with a Maritime Accident Lawyer

If you have been injured on the job due to human error or the negligence of another person or entity, you deserve a legal advocate in your corner. Our team at Arnold & Itkin LLP is prepared to fight for you. Get in touch with a maritime accident lawyer from our team for the skilled offshore accident representation you need on your side. Our firm is equipped to aggressively fight your claim and prove the responsibility of the parties involved for your pain and suffering.

Contact Arnold & Itkin LLP today for more information, starting with a free case review.

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