Accidents of shipyard workers

The shipyards are where yachts, military ships, cruisers and cargo ships are built and repaired. Shipyards pose several potential hazards to workers. Workers who perform hanging tasks, for example, ropes and cables of use to secure the parts and sections of a ship for maneuvers of cranes, forklifts and other equipment. Cargoes that are improperly handled can expose workers to significant risks, including falls, electric shocks, amputations and crush injuries. Those who work at these sites are at risk of serious or life-changing injuries as a result of safety violations and / or work procedures.

Shipyard work hazards

Working in a shipyard undoubtedly presents an element of increased risk compared to many other repair work or assembly line. Shipyard workers have to deal with one or more of the following risks quite routinely:

  • Exposure to asbestos: Being exposed to asbestos in a shipyard can result in mesothelioma, a deadly disease that has no known cure. Many workers in the New York shipyards are not informed when they are working nearby or with asbestos. Often, these workers are not provided with respiratory protection or even recommended to use respiratory protection at work.
  • Fires and Explosions: There are a number of fuel cleaning solvents used in shipyards that include methyl ethyl ketone and diesel fuel. Other hazardous materials found in shipyards include hydrogen gas generated during acid washing and dangerous cargoes, such as iron ore and fertilizers.
  • Slips and dangerous falls: Oil, grease and debris can cause important slips and falls or trips and falls.
  • Falls: Shipyard workers are often at risk of falling from the edges of the deck, open holes and openings in the deck. It is also common for workers in the New York shipyards to suffer serious injuries in falls from ladders and scaffolding.
  • Respiratory hazards: When cleaning products are used in shipyards in confined spaces, they have the potential to produce toxic vapors that can reduce oxygen levels and create respiratory problems.
  • The risks of skin contact: There are many toxic solvents, chemical removers and flammable liquids in shipyards that can cause great damage to eyes and skin.
  • Risks related to temperature: A significant amount of shipyard work is done outside. Workers can suffer from heat stress, heat stroke and dehydration in the summer. In the fall and winter, workers may suffer from hypothermia and frostbite.
  • Excessive noise: Many of the tools and equipment used in shipyards produce very loud noises that can cause hearing loss.
  • Laceration injuries: Shipyard workers are at risk of amputation injuries every time they use power tools, such as high pressure steam, saws, welding equipment and cleaning equipment.
  • Electrical hazards: Among electrical tools, lighting fixtures and power cords, there are numerous electrical hazards that can lead to serious electrocution injuries.
  • Elevation Injuries: Shipyard workers who are injured when lifting the load or heavy equipment are eligible to request repair.

Shipbuilding and asbestos

In recent years, the shipbuilders of New York were frequently exposed to asbestos. Asbestos is a tough and durable fire mineral that is frequently used in shipbuilding. Many workers were exposed to this dangerous mineral without respiratory protection. When asbestos is handled, fibers can be converted into air and inhaled. Asbestos fibers can get lodged in the lungs, which in deadly cancers, such as asbestosis, lung cancer and mesothelioma. Many workers are not aware that they are developing mesothelioma until many years after they have retired from shipyard work. By then, therapeutic options are limited and their prognosis is often bleak.

Accident prevention

Shipyards, managers and supervisors must take the necessary measures to avoid accidents with injuries. Here are some steps you can take to keep workers safe at work:

  1. Solvents and flammable materials should be stored immediately or disposed of after use.
  2. Spills should be scrubbed right away.
  3. Gaps and openings in decks and ships must be clearly marked.
  4. Adequate ventilation should be provided when workers use hazardous chemicals.
  5. Concentrations in the air must be carefully controlled.
  6. Protective equipment must be provided to workers who use hazardous solvents and corrosive materials.
  7. Shade and adequate fluids should be provided when working in the heat.
  8. Hearing protection must be provided.
  9. High pressure hoses must be inspected before use.
  10. Power tools must be grounded or double insulated.
  11. Those who are working in the elevations should have a safety protection fall as harnesses and safety nets.
  12. Workers must be provided with other safety equipment such as goggles, vests and helmets.

Examples of Shipyard Accidents

  1. Hit-by-accident: OSHA gives the example of a recent shipyard accident where workers were using a wheel-mounted crane to replace two exhaust pipes that had been removed from a container. An operator of the crane that was moving the batteries loosened the line causing a pile of 3 tons to be shut up and hit with an installer. He killed him instantly. These accidents could be avoided by understanding the sequence of hanging events as well as the load balancing point and ensuring that the drop position is safe.
  2. Amputation injuries: OSHA gives the example of an incident in which a worker performed the maintenance of a crane and was removing a damaged cargo drum with a weight of 3,500 pounds. The worker’s left finger was caught and crushed between the pedestal bearing and another part of the drum assembly. As a result, the left finger was amputated. These incidents can be prevented by completing a previous work plan that includes a hazard assessment and evaluation of possible danger zones. Employers must ensure that pinch points are identified and items are insured.
  3. Crush injuries: Another accident reported to OSHA involving the operator of a crane that was using a chain sling on the hook of the crane. It was set in motion in a single choker hook to pick up and deliver to the steel structure that lay horizontally on two trestles. From the hook of the sling it did not have a safety latch, the chain disconnected from the hook and the steel structure fell towards it. He was crushed between two steel frames.

These accidents can be prevented by ensuring that workers do not place any part of their body in areas where they could be trapped when operating a crane. Workers must also ensure that the tools and equipment used are inspected periodically for defects and are replaced or repaired as necessary. Workers who use cranes must be trained in rigging procedures. Daily inspections of the cranes should be carried out using safety checklists to ensure that the equipment is working properly.

Information and Resources for injured shipyard workers

It is important for all workers, including those working in shipyards, to realize that they are entitled to a safe workplace. State and federal laws require employers to provide their employees with working conditions that are free from known hazards. The regional office of Occupational Health and Administration of the USA. It is located at 201 Varick St. Room 670, New York, NY 10014. Workers seeking information can call that office at 212-337-2378. If you are outside of New York, visit the OSHA website at or call 1-800-321-6742 for more information on the location of your regional office.

Workers can file a complaint that OSHA inspects their workplace if they believe their employer does not meet safety standards or that there are serious hazards present. Employees can file a complaint with OSHA by calling 1-800-321-6742 or by printing the claim sheet and sending it by mail or fax to your local OSHA office. A complaint that is signed by an employee is more likely to result in an inspection. If you think your workplace is not safe or if you have questions, contact OSHA to report confidentially. The OSHA website shows information about workers’ rights and employer responsibilities.

Who can file a complaint?

Employees or their representatives have the right to request an inspection of a workplace if they believe there is a violation of safety or health. A complaint can also be made if there is a situation that constitutes an «imminent danger» to employees. Workers’ representatives could be representatives of labor unions, a lawyer acting for an employee or any other person acting as a genuine representative including, but not limited to, members of the clergy, social workers, spouses, officials of the government, family members, etc. In addition, anyone who is knowledgeable about workplace safety issues or health hazards may report unsafe conditions to OSHA.

Employees or their representatives must provide sufficient information for OSHA to determine that a hazard exists. Here is part of the information that must be provided by OSHA to launch an investigation:

  1. Number of workers in the place and the number of employees exposed to danger.
  2. Form of the exhibition and the nature of the work done that is unsafe or unhealthy.
  3. Type of equipment used and the state of the equipment in the workplace.
  4. Types of materials and / or chemicals that are used.
  5. Have employees received training for work and safety?
  6. What types of processes or operations are involved?
  7. How often and for how long do employees spend working on the task that leads to their exposure?
  8. Period of time the dangerous condition has existed.
  9. The attempts that have been made by the employer to correct the problem.
  10. Injuries, deaths or illnesses that have occurred as a result of this problem including any near miss incident.

Federal laws that protect shipyard workers

There are several federal laws that can help shipyards and other sea workers who have been injured at work. The Jones Act protects those who are employed in a shipyard or as members of the crew on board commercial vessels, such as ships, barges, tugboats, cruisers, excursion boats, ferries, fishing vessels, etc. This law helps injured shipyard workers are asked for compensation for damages, including, but not limited to, medical expenses, lost wages and benefits, permanent injuries, past and future pain and suffering, etc.

The Harbor Workers Stevedores Act is a federal law that protects people who work in shipyards and docks. Employers and owners are responsible for providing the necessary safety training and safety equipment for workers. When they do not, injured workers or families of workers who die at work can seek compensation under this federal law. In addition, death in the High Seas Act allows surviving family members or dependents to recover damages after a worker dies in international waters.

If you have been injured in a shipyard accident, it is important that you report your injury to your immediate supervisor. It is also essential that you get immediate medical attention to maximize your chances of a quick and complete recovery. The visit to a doctor creates a record of the injuries and the treatment you have received. Make sure it complies with the doctor’s instructions regarding follow-up visits and other treatments. It could also help to take photographs of the accident site including the equipment involved in the accident, if any. Take pictures of your injuries too. Document damages and losses methodically. Taking these steps will help strengthen your claim and increase your chances of getting fair and full compensation for your losses. Contact an experienced personal injury lawyer who will help you protect your rights and look out for your best interests. If your claim is denied, an experienced lawyer will be able to file an appeal or explore other avenues of compensation.

Get the help you need

If you or a loved one has been injured in a shipyard accident, the New York personal injury lawyers experienced in the legal office of Kenneth A. Wilhelm can help you better understand your rights and legal options. Please contact us toll-free 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at 1-800-WORK4-YOU (1-800-967-5496). We can even come to you. We can also help with personal injury cases in New Jersey, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, or Florida. If you have been seriously injured in any of the 50 states of the United States, please call us and we will try to help you with your case.

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