Lifeboat Accident Attorneys

Offshore Lifeboat Accidents & Injuries

All offshore oil rigs and vessels must be equipped with enough lifeboats to evacuate the entire crew in the event of an emergency. Whether it is a sinking ship or a fire on an offshore rig, crews may have to abandon the vessel at a moment’s notice. To prepare for such an emergency, companies are required to train the crews on how to quickly and safely flee the vessel and board the lifeboats. This is done through lifeboat drills—or “muster drills.”

Unfortunately, lifeboat drills themselves can be hazardous. Equipment malfunction, improper training, or lax safety procedures can put workers’ lives at risk as they drill the very actions that are supposed to save them in the event of an emergency. At Arnold & Itkin, we help people across the U.S. who have been harmed or have lost loved ones in lifeboat accidents. We have extensive experience with Jones Act claims and all cases that fall under admiralty law

Contact our lifeboat accident lawyers today for a free consultation.

How Lifeboat Drills Are Conducted

According to CFR § 109.213, all crew members and industrial personnel on mobile offshore drilling units must take part in at least one fire drill and one abandonment drill each month. Every lifeboat on a vessel must be launched and operated, with its assigned crew on board, at least once every three months. If an offshore unit has additional rescue boats, these must also be launched and operated at least once every three months. 

Abandonment drills involve several key steps, including:

  • Mustering the crew and reporting to designated stations.
  • Putting on lifejackets and immersion suits.
  • Lowering, starting, and operating at least one lifeboat. 

Why Are Lifeboat Drills Dangerous?

One of the most significant risks comes from the launching and recovery of lifeboats. The process involves mechanical systems and winches, and if these malfunction or if there is a procedural error, it can lead to catastrophic accidents. A malfunctioning winch, for example, can cause a lifeboat to drop suddenly or swing uncontrollably. Workers may be injured or killed if a lifeboat is released prematurely or if it impacts the water at an incorrect angle.

In October 2014, a lifeboat inspection turned deadly for 2 workers on the Ensco-104, a jack-up rig that was operating off the coast of Malaysia. The safety harness on the lifeboat broke unexpectedly as the workers were inspecting the vessel, and it plummeted 150 feet to the ocean below. Both workers died from head injuries.

Lifeboat drills can also present risks of slip and fall accidents or falls overboard. The environment on an offshore platform or ship can be slippery and unstable. During drills, when workers are required to move quickly to their muster stations and then into the lifeboats, there is an increased risk of slips, trips, and falls, which can result in injuries.

Causes of Lifeboat Accidents

Although their intended purpose is to teach the crew how to safely board and launch lifeboats, lifeboat drills can be dangerous if not conducted properly. Lifeboat accidents may be caused by:

  • Poorly maintained lifeboats or equipment
  • Communications failures
  • Mechanical malfunctions
  • Poor safety training
  • Unsafe drill procedures
  • Lack of familiarity with the lifeboat equipment

Offshore companies and shipowners are obligated to maintain seaworthy vessels and provide reasonably safe workplaces for their crews. This includes maintaining lifeboats and their launch systems, as well as implementing training so crew members know how to safely board, launch, and operate lifeboats. These measures are integral to preventing lifeboat drill accidents and ensuring the safe abandonment of a platform or vessel in the event of a real emergency. 

Offshore Lifeboat Accidents & Your Rights

Injuries sustained in a lifeboat accident are often serious and can even be fatal. If you have been injured or a loved one was killed in an offshore lifeboat accident, you should consult an experienced maritime lawyer as soon as possible. Depending on the circumstances of the accident, you could be entitled to compensation under maritime law. 

Arnold & Itkin’s team of lifeboat accident attorneys helps injured offshore workers throughout the country; we are ready to see how we can help you. Your journey starts with a free, confidential consultation.

Call (888) 346-5024 today for a free consultation about your legal options.

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