Shipyards are hectic and dangerous workplaces. 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, making them serious susceptible to injuries and accidents.
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.
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Whether you are a shipyard worker, longshoreman, harbor or dock worker, we understand the complexities and legalities of your case. Let us help you fight for fair compensation!
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 the requirements of personal protective equipment, all shipyards must have an emergency rescue team prepared to promptly respond for service when needed. OSHA also requires that employers train all 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:
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, irritating, and fumigating atmospheres. Employers also need to ensure that workers are getting the oxygen content that they need to help prevent injury or death, as many jobs must be performed in tight quarters.
The repairing and refitting of ships involves welding, grinding, and torch cutting. Welding poses a danger of explosions and burns. Other injuries these workers may suffer include spine injuries, back injuries, neck injuries, and loss of limb. From falling objects to falling off ladders, there are countless risks for shipyard workers when on the job. Other common injuries include toxic fume poisoning due to working in a confined space for too long, lacerations due to sharp materials, and burns due to shipyard fires.
Shipbuilding is an important aspect of the offshore and maritime industry. Without this occupation, there would be no vessels to perform all the necessary tasks at sea. This essential responsibility allows for countless other individuals to be employed in the offshore industry. Like other maritime jobs, it can be an extremely dangerous occupation. While most occupations involve some type of risk or hazards, shipbuilding and other maritime jobs often involve a higher amount of risk. Specifically, shipbuilding often puts workers in close proximity to a number of health hazards related to toxic materials, such as cobalt, titanium, nickel, lead, iron, and others. Due to the typically cramped quarters that workers must build, repair, or install areas of the ship in, lung cancer, respiratory inflammation, and similar conditions are very common from breathing in such hazardous contaminants.
Other dangers include the following:
Being in such confined spaces creates an increased risk for injuries due to fires, explosion, and chemical 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.
Dangers of Shipbreaking
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 are also often working with a fire hazard 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 to ear damage because of the loud noises associated with shipbreaking. The OSHA says that 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. Any worker who is in the business of shipbreaking should be aware of all of these exposure risks when they start on the job. 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 have to do a variety of jobs that come with the immediate danger. 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 toe 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.
As well, workers have to do 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 job. 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.
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 pursue effective action. With our proven record of success, you can be confident in your ability to retain fair compensation.
Now is the time to discuss your case with an advocate you can trust. Contact Arnold & Itkin today!
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Because maritime law is so complex and so complicated, it is crucial that you work with an attorney who has an in-depth understanding of how it works and who has proven themselves in similar cases before.