Heavy Lift Ship Accidents
Heavy lift ships are powerful and can move oil platforms, derricks, and other items weighing hundreds of tons. Therefore, these vessels require extensive training and experience to operate. The hazards on such vessels have to do with the amount of power needed to drive cranes and other heavy lifting equipment. Stability and safety can be major concerns, both during the design phase and while these systems are being operated.
Also, a few tasks may be performed at once. It can take several operations to get a piece of cargo in place, so many risks need to be assessed prior to moving any cargo, or even when disassembling and reassembling components before and after transport. All lifting equipment must be inspected and maintained, and repaired when it needs to be.
Lifting Risks Beyond Cargo and Equipment
Falling cargo, equipment failures, and injuries are just part of the equation when heavy lift ships are considered. The stability of the vessel is also a concern. This is especially so as the crane or derrick moves a load to any side. A ship can heel in that direction and often does; the shift in the center of gravity can cause the entire vessel to tip over if workers aren’t careful. The lift system’s movement to the side and the swing of the load should be taken into account.
Where the cargo is positioned can impact the stability of the vessel too. Lift operators, therefore, must pay careful attention when moving and placing items. There are a lot of physical dynamics involved. The technicalities require anyone operating the equipment, or controlling the ballast of the ship, must be experienced in performing the appropriate steps and working on the specific type of vessel. Ships with moonpools allow lifting through an opening that’s parallel to its depth. The arrangement keeps the center of gravity towards the middle, but still, the technicalities are many.
Sometimes an equipment failure happens for reasons no one could have found. It is also often due to negligence, such as not maintaining systems as they should be. Human error and a lack of training (because a maritime employer or vessel owner/operator didn’t provide it) can be considered negligent on the part of an employer as well, under maritime law. Various protections are available to victims of injuries if the proper laws and standards are not followed. If an investigation into a worker injury or death finds it could have been prevented by following proper procedures and safety protocols, an employee or their family might receive compensation if it can be proven the accident was the fault of someone else.