Gangway Accident Attorneys

Cargo Handling Accidents, Gangway Falls & More

Marine terminals are critical hubs of commerce, yet they stand out as particularly hazardous work environments. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the fatality rate for marine terminal workers was 1.9 per 100,000 workers from 2011 to 2017, which was 5 times that of the overall workforce in the United States. The injury rate for marine terminal workers was twice the national average during that same time period. 

Working on the docks presents unique challenges, especially for marine cargo handlers who rely on gangways daily to transition between ship and shore. These gangways are meant to be secure pathways, but slick surfaces, unstable footing, or an unexpected shift can quickly lead to hazardous slips or falls. When gangways aren’t properly maintained or safety protocols are overlooked, it's not just a minor mishap; it can lead to serious injury.

At Arnold & Itkin, we represent longshoremen, harbor workers, seamen, and maritime workers of all kinds who have been injured on the job. Our firm is known nationwide as the leader in maritime law, having handled the biggest cases in the industry—and with a track record that includes more than $20 billion in verdicts and settlements for our clients. 

If you have been injured in a gangway accident or in any type of incident as a marine terminal worker or seaman, our team is here to help. Call (888) 346-5024 for a free consultation.

Common Gangway Hazards

Gangways are critical points of transition where workers, crew members, and passengers move from dock to vessel or vice versa. Gangways are suspended above the water and can be steep, narrow, or slippery due to marine conditions like rain, sea spray, and the presence of algae or oil. The tide and ship movements can alter the angle and stability of a gangway. If a gangway is not properly designed, constructed, or adjusted for these changes, it can become unsafe.

Falls from gangways can cause head, brain, neck, and spine injuries. Drowning and crush injuries are also possible after a gangway fall.

Per OSHA, gangways must meet the following requirements:

  • Gangway must be a minimum of 20 inches wide
  • Handrails must be 33 inches high
  • Chain, wire, and rope railings must be tightly strung
  • A net must be set under the gangway to prevent workers from falling into the water or a lower level
  • Gangways must be kept clear
  • Any obstructions that must be on the gangway need to be properly marked
  • When there is a one-foot gap between the gangway and the edge of an apron, a bridge must be installed
  • Each side of the gangway must be protected with handrails and midrails

Typically, OSHA will inspect the scene of the accident. If they declare that the ship was not following gangway safety standards, they may fine the shipowner or operator. If you were injured in a gangway fall or other accident, you may be able to seek compensation from your employer or another at-fault party for failing to provide a safe working environment. Our gangway accident attorneys can talk to you about your specific situation and how to move forward.

What Causes Gangway Accidents?

Gangway incidents can occur for various reasons, many of which are preventable with proper care and maintenance. Some gangway accidents have multiple causes. Uncovering the cause of such an incident is a key part of helping an injured marine terminal worker seek and recover fair compensation for their injuries and losses.

Gangway accidents may be caused by:

  • Slippery Surfaces: Water, algae, and other substances can present slip and fall risks if not properly addressed.
  • Structural Failures: Gangways can collapse or fail if not properly secured or if they have structural weaknesses.
  • Improper Angle: A gangway's angle can contribute to accidents if it's too steep or improperly adjusted for tide levels.
  • Insufficient Lighting: Poor lighting can lead to missteps and falls, especially during nighttime operations.
  • Lack of Maintenance: Wear and tear can go unnoticed without routine checks, leading to weakened structures.
  • Improper Use: Not using a gangway properly, such as overloading or using it in bad weather, can lead to accidents.

All of these risks can be minimized or eliminated when employers implement appropriate safety measures. This may include regular inspections and maintenance for issues like wear, corrosion, and structural problems. Non-slip surfaces should be applied to help provide traction. Workers should be properly trained on how to use gangways, and they should be provided with the appropriate safety gear, such as handrails and safety nets. 

Contact Our Gangway Accident Lawyers

If you have been injured while working at a dock, harbor, or marine cargo terminal, you need to talk to an experienced maritime lawyer about your accident and legal rights. Regardless of whether you are a dock worker, a longshoreman, or a harbor worker, you have certain rights and benefits when you are injured or fall ill in a maritime-related job. At Arnold & Itkin, we understand the complexities of maritime law. Our attorneys stand up for maritime workers who have been injured on the job anywhere in national or international waters.

For help after a gangway accident, call (888) 346-5024 or contact us online. Your consultation is free.

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