Common Commercial Diving Accidents & How to Prevent Them
Almost 10,000 workers are employed as commercial divers, government divers, and sea harvesters in the United States, according to the Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA), a division of the United States Department of Labor. As an important part of the offshore industry, commercial diving is extremely different from recreational scuba diving. The work not only involves diving under sea, but also operating, lifting, and / or carrying machinery under water at the same time. Our commercial diving accident lawyers provide advocacy to those injured in these types of offshore positions.
The Risks Associated with Commercial Diving
Every year, between 6 and 13 fatalities occur in relation to diving, according to OSHA. This does not include the number of injuries that occur on a yearly basis. As is the case with much of the offshore industry, commercial diving comes with a number of inherent risks. This is simply due to the nature of the work required.
However, a majority of the commercial diving accidents that occur every year in the United States are actually preventable. The sobering reality is that, if employers and job site managers enforced more stringent observance of federal and state regulations and other safety protocols on diving jobs, many of these accidents and injuries wouldn’t happen at all.
What Causes Commercial Diving Injuries in the United States?
The most common causes of commercial diving accidents include:
- Improper Equipment Maintenance – As one of the leading causes of commercial diving accidents, poorly maintained equipment plays a huge role in the safety of a commercial diver. The diver is directly dependent on the condition of the equipment for his / her safety and health. Every piece matters—from hose connections to helmets. Unfortunately, the lack of disciplined maintenance by vessel owners and operators has led to many cases of dangerous equipment deterioration, which in turn threatens the health and safety of divers.
- Inadequate Training – This is another leading cause of commercial diving accidents, as well as of offshore accidents in general. While requirements for recreational diving are highly regulated, influxes in the offshore market can lead employers to rush vital training before sending the employee on a commercial dive. This lack of training can manifest itself in any team member of the diving staff, from the supervisor to the actual driver. Even one seemingly minor amateur mistake can put the rest of the team in danger.
- Pressure Differentials – When operating, repairing, or installing machinery underwater, there are many factors that must come into consideration. Pressure behaves much differently underwater as opposed to on land. Differentials occur when the pressure on one side of an underwater structure—such as a pipeline—is greater than the pressure on the other side. Because of the lack of caution concerning this, divers have been trapped by suction intakes, pinned against structures, and have even lost limbs or sustained other major injuries. Diving near newly installed structures requires heightened caution and awareness of these differentials.
- Underwater Fires – While the risk of electrocution when using heat underwater seems as if it would be minimal, cutting or welding near a closed compartment can cause the trapped gas to ignite. The best way to prevent this from happening is to make sure to cut holes first, allowing gas and unburned oxygen to escape before proceeding to apply heat near the chamber.
What to Do If You’ve Been Injured as a Commercial Diver
If you or a loved one was injured in a commercial diving accident, including an accident involving one of the above mentioned causes, you should not hesitate to take legal action. Underwater accidents related to offshore jobs are often complex; knowing your rights may seem overwhelming. But you don’t need to feel alone: Our team is here for you! At Arnold & Itkin LLP, we have years of experience in cases involving offshore accidents and injuries. We understand these cases thoroughly and we know how to fight for you knowledgeably and effectively.
If you have been injured, it is important to take action as soon as possible, so contact Arnold & Itkin today. We offer free case evaluations, so there is no reason to hesitate.