Shipyard Accident Attorneys
Over $20 Billion Won for Our Clients
Shipyards are hectic places, where workers are commonly found repairing, overhauling, dismantling, and scrapping vessels. This can involve heavy materials, dangerous equipment, and even hazardous chemicals. While shipyard workers perform essential jobs to keep commercial fleets afloat, their work can be physically straining and dangerous, increasing the risk of serious injuries and accidents—when employers do not implement proper safety standards.
Were you injured while working in a shipyard? You can call on the experienced maritime injury lawyers at Arnold & Itkin for caring and reliable counsel. We have represented countless clients with serious, life-altering injuries who not only needed long-term medical care—they needed financial support to cover their inability to make a living.
Our firm has:
- Over $20 billion won in verdicts and settlements
- Unparalleled resources and experience in and out of the courtroom
- Record-setting results in multiple states
- A 20-year history of helping after the biggest maritime disasters
Serious Hazards Found in Shipyards
There are a variety of different dangers that can be found in shipyards, which is why OSHA has extremely strict rules and regulations on how they are to be run.
In addition to signs, chemical level precautions, and personal protective equipment, all shipyards must have an emergency rescue team prepared to promptly respond when needed. OSHA also requires that employers train workers on how to enter confined and enclosed spaces at the shipyard and assess the dangers associated with this action.
OSHA also regulates all shipyard activities involving:
- Cleaning and cold work
- Hot work such as welding
- Hazardous materials
- Conditions testing
- Surface preparation
- Painting and paint removal
- Flammable liquids
- Scaffolds, ladders, and other surfaces
Since there are many flammable and combustible materials commonly transported in and around shipyards, owners must do their best to reduce the possibility of toxic, corrosive, and irritating atmospheres. Employers also need to ensure that workers are getting sufficient oxygen, as many jobs must be performed in tight quarters.
Common Types of Shipyard Injuries
Shipbuilding is recognized as one of the more dangerous occupations due to the elevated risks it carries. Shipyard workers are tasked with the critical job of repairing and refitting ships, a process that often involves hazardous activities like welding, grinding, and torch cutting. Welding, in particular, carries risks of explosions and serious burns. The physical demands of the job also expose workers to potentially severe musculoskeletal injuries, including damage to the spine, back, and neck, and even traumatic events leading to the loss of a limb.
Unlike many other jobs, shipbuilding workers often operate in close contact with a host of toxic substances, including cobalt, titanium, nickel, lead, and iron. Prolonged exposure to these materials, especially in the confined spaces that are typical in ship construction and repair, can lead to serious health issues like lung cancer and respiratory conditions.
Additional hazards shipbuilders face include:
- Welding-related fires and explosions
- Lacerations caused by sharp materials or tools
- Slips and falls from significant heights
- Being struck by falling or swinging objects
- Vehicle accidents at or near shipyards
If you or someone you know has been injured in a shipbuilding accident, understanding the full extent of your rights and the compensation available is essential. Seeking the advice of an experienced shipyard accident attorney is a critical step in navigating the complex aftermath of such incidents.
Shipbreaking Accidents & Toxic Exposure
Shipbreaking is the process of dismantling a vessel's structure so it can be scrapped. When a ship is wrecked or is no longer useful, crews will be asked to perform the shipbreaking procedure. Because it is often difficult to get these ships out of the water, most shipbreaking is done at a pier, a dry dock, or a dismantling slip. Shipbreaking is an involved process with many steps and can involve anything from removing parts to recycling the ship's body.
Shipbreaking comes with a variety of hazards that can cause injury or even death.
Shipyard workers involved in shipbreaking can suffer from asbestos exposure because of the asbestos in the insulation of the ship, the cables, the lagging, or other parts of the vessel. Workers also often face fire hazards as they try to break the ship using powerful tools. If sparks land on flammable insulation, lagging, residual fuel, lubricants, flammable liquids, or matting it could result in an explosion or a harmful blaze.
Workers are also at risk of ear damage because of the loud noises associated with shipbreaking. Shipbreaking involves hammering, metal cutting, and grinding, which can cause permanent ear damage if workers aren't provided with proper ear protection. Workers can also be exposed to hazardous chemicals and materials that are in the paint coatings, thermometers, or ballast tanks of the ship. Mercury poisoning is a risk during shipbreaking as the element is located in light tubes, electrical switches, fire detectors, and tank-level indicators.
Workers also run the risk of polychlorinated biphenyls exposure, which can be found in rubber products like hoses, silver paint, habitability paint, plates, and plastic foam insulation. There is also lead in the paints, batteries, motor components, and generators of the ship. Employers should do all that they can to prevent workers from exposure by providing them with protective clothing and any other means necessary.
Dangerous Activities Involved in Shipbreaking
Workers who are in the shipbreaking industry must perform a variety of potentially risky jobs. Among these are the danger of entry into confined and enclosed spaces, and the danger of metal cutting and disposal. Workers are often expected to cut and weld on the ships using compressed gas, and to stand on scaffolds, ladders, and other services where there is a present falling hazard. Oil/fuel removal and tank cleaning can expose workers to chemicals or flammable sources. Bilge/ballast water removal also comes with risks.
Shipbreaking workers must perform paint removal, which can lead to lead exposure, and often have to work on elevated surfaces near deck openings and edges. Workers also need to work with industrial truck operations and need to use cranes, gear, and other heavy equipment to handle materials. All of these risks are heightened when employees are not given proper training and lack the personal protective equipment that they need to do their jobs.
Employers should also ensure that fire protection measures are taken at the workplace and that there are emergency response teams, rescue teams, and first-aid personnel nearby in the event of an emergency.
What Causes Shipyard Accidents & Injuries?
Shipyard work can be demanding because of its physical demands combined with long hours. Shipyard workers might work irregular hours to meet the demands of their jobs. So, they might often find themselves exhausted because of their schedules. Employers must provide their workers with adequate breaks and workable schedules.
According to OSHA, confined spaces are one of the most dangerous aspects of shipyard work. They may lack adequate oxygen or can expose workers to an unsafe amount of chemicals and dangerous substances. Additionally, confined spaces create high-pressure hazards, which can cause catastrophic trauma such as a ruptured eardrum.
Slip and Fall Accidents
Slip and fall accidents are a common danger for many physical jobs. However, they are particularly dangerous in a shipyard. A simple slip and fall might turn deadly if work is being done at significant heights. Employers must properly train their employees and provide them with the equipment required to prevent slip and fall accidents.
Chronic Illness Caused by Respiratory Hazards
Shipyard workers are exposed to a variety of chemicals and substances. In some instances, these hazards can cause long-term chronic illnesses. Fumes, smoke, and asbestos are sources of chronic illness for shipyard workers. In fact, certain forms of cancer are more common in shipyard workers because of respiratory hazards, according to the CDC.
Inadequate Safety Procedures
Companies have a responsibility to provide employees with the training and equipment required to protect them on the job. Many shipyard workers are not aware of the laws that protect them and should contact an attorney if they’ve suffered an injury while working. Shipyard injuries are preventable; employer negligence is the source of most accidents.
Need Seasoned Counsel? Call Arnold & Itkin Today.
If you have been injured in a shipyard accident, you owe it to yourself to understand your legal rights. You may be entitled to compensation if your injury was caused by the negligence or reckless actions of others, including shipyard owners, contractors, and employers. Our award-winning maritime attorneys know how to use the Jones Act and other maritime laws to protect your legal rights. We can review your case and help you pursue legal action. With our proven record of success, you can be confident in your ability to seek fair compensation.
Now is the time to discuss your shipyard accident case with an advocate you can trust. Contact us today!