Maritime laws protect every worker on board a cargo ship right from the able-bodied seaman to the captain. And although these jobs play a vital role in America’s economy, they are highly susceptible to injuries whilst on the job — the environment is hast and unforgiving, natural for off-shore facilities such as oil rigs and natural gas wells.
The risk of accidents caused by negligence on account of co-workers, vessels that are unseaworthy, equipment that is defective is what often puts offshore workers in a very demanding position to stay safe. Other risks include improper safety and security measures, lack of maintenance, work practices that are unsafe, fires and explosions and even sudden blowouts.
There are also several types of incidents that occur offshore that aren’t as catastrophic, but lead to injuries, being hurt, disabled or even death while on the job. Some of the most common types of such accidents include falling objects, being hit by heave equipment, falls and skips, falling overboard, being exposed to toxic materials and even exposure to extreme temperatures.
How to stay safe
- To ensure safety when at work, it is important to conduct a complete job safety analysis before the star of your shift and make a note of potential hazards.
- The use of proper equipment including the right protective garments, eye and ear protection, work boots, gloves, etc is extremely critical while on the job.
- It is important that you are aware of and follow safe evacuation procedures in case of any emergencies.
- While operating heavy equipment, see that you are well aware of the Operation and Maintenance Manuals (OMMs), operating controls and operation procedures. Additionally, be aware of the safe pressure testing procedures and follow safe practices for material handling.
If ignored, damages can be significant as workers can not only stand the risk of losing time from work, in turn losing their earning potential, but also face the risk of being permanently disabled not ruling out fatalities.
For these reasons, offshore marine works are compensated by two types of laws — One being the Jones Act and the other being the Longshore and Harbor Workers Compensation Act.
The Jones Act broadly covers protection from injuries working in jack-up rigs and other types of drill ships that are mainly mobile oil extraction vessels. Under this law, an injured seaman is given the right to file a claim against the vessel owners, crew or even the captains if injuries caused to him were as a result of negligence or due to the vessel or rig being unseaworthy.
Longshore and Harbor Workers Compensation Act
Workers that are on stationary oil rigs or natural gas wells are not covered by the Jones Act. However, they are protected by the federal government’s LHWCA or the state worker’s compensation plans. This is, of course, dependent on the geographical location of the accident site and also the jurisdiction that it falls in. The LHWCA provides protection against disease as well as contract illness or against injuries across the navigational waters of the United States and adjourning areas.