Underwater Welding Accidents: How Common Are They?
The offshore and maritime industries are filled with risky jobs. One of the most dangerous? Underwater welding. But just how common are accidents in this particular occupation? Due to the nature of the job, it is not surprising that accidents or injuries can occur fairly often. According to statistics, there is an estimated 15% fatality rate for underwater welders. While this may be a high estimate, it shows just how dangerous an occupation underwater welding can be.
Divers are often working on large ship hauls, pipes, or other major projects with minimal visibility, high wave currents, and freezing temperatures. When dives are deep, an underwater welder must make sure they go through the proper decompression procedures. Overall, underwater welding results in an extremely high risk for accidents.
Common Types of Accidents
Workers in this field face a number of different dangers on a daily basis.
For example, they may face the following types of accidents:
- Accidents due to equipment malfunctions
- Diver bends due to pressure changes
- Freezing or hypothermia
- Electric shock
Lack of New Standards Indicate a Need for Change
The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released data on commercial diver death rates from 1989 to 1997. According to those numbers, there was an average of 5 deaths per year over that nearly 10 year period. OSHA also reports that an average of 6 to 13 diving-related deaths occurred ever year according to their past statistics.
Unfortunately, there are no recent statistics on the number of underwater welding accidents that occur every year in the U.S. OSHA’s standards on commercial diving haven’t been updated since 1978. This indicates the lack of newer regulations and safety procedures in this field. With the drastic changes to diving equipment, welding gear, and even diving practices that have occurred over the last few decades, the lack of revision to diving standards may put underwater welders at risk.
Though some safety measures have been improved, it is important that these numbers remain updated and standards continually revised to ensure the proper safety measures are taken in the workplace. While underwater welding is a dangerous occupation, workplace safety can go a long way in preventing accidents and injuries.
Have you or a loved one suffered injuries in an offshore accident? Talk to the maritime lawyers at Arnold & Itkin.