Transferring Crewmembers On and Off the Vessel
Open waters present many inherent dangers to those sailing them, but one often overlooked danger is the risk involved in transferring crewmembers to and from a vessel.Whether a person is being removed from a ship during an emergency or they are simply starting a work shift, personnel moves can happenin a number of ways, all of which come with potential hazards.
Helicopters can often be used on large vessels or in the case of an emergency. In the offshore oil industry, transportation accidents are the leading cause of fatalities with 75% of these occurring during helicopter transfers, according to the CDC. These crashes claimed the lives of at least 49 workers between 2003 and 2010. However, helicopters can often reach otherwise inaccessible vessels, such as those facing adverse weather. Due to their mobility and quick access, in the case of a capsized ship, medical emergency, or other critical incident, the U.S. Coast Guard most often uses helicopters.
Other Transfer Methods
Crew and other passengers may also be transferred by boat, on vessels such as ferries, tugboats, and other small crafts. Methods of transfer between the two vessels, however, can vary depending on the situation.
Personnel can also be moved via a crane-assisted transfer. This typically involves crewmembers boarding transfer capsules, which can hold anywhere from one to dozens of passengers, and a massive crane moving them to another vessel. This method is commonly used among oil rigs to load and unload crew members.
Less frequently used methods of transfer at sea include a swing rope or a plank placed between vessels that crewmembers then walk over. These methods can only be used between vessels of relatively the same size and may carry a higher risk of accidents than other methods.
Risk of Injury
All of these maritime transfer methods carry a risk to those being transferred. Safety equipment, such as harnesses and lifejackets, can be used to reduce this risk, and training must be implemented to ensure that all personnel are as ready as possible for any accidents. In the incident that a crewmember or passenger is injured during a transfer due to the negligence of another party, they may have grounds to seek compensation. This can include a lack of proper safety gear, inadequate maintenance on machinery, or negligent operating crew.
If you or a loved has been injured during a maritime transfer, contact the offshore injury lawyers at Arnold & Itkin to learn about your legal rights.