Rigging is a commonly used ship and maritime procedure that’s needed to hoist cargo in both loading and unloading situations. Unless a set of safety practices is followed, rigging can pose serious dangers to the workers involved in the process.
Common Rigging Hazards
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) recognizes a number of safety hazards linked to rigging.
The first set of dangers is linked to potential falls. Uneven working surfaces, wet or slippery work surfaces, obstructions, poor use of necessary equipment and unprotected deck holes/sides/bulkhead openings all increase the risk of falls and potential injuries.
Rigging is also linked to a risk of crushing or getting struck by heavy objects. Poor use or poor maintenance of rigging equipment can easily contribute to such accidents. Crushing hazards also stem from defective gear, loads that aren’t rigged according to safety recommendations, improper use of tag line, loads that are suspended overhead and hazardous locations between the suspended load and a fixed object.
The final set of rigging hazards is linked to electrical accidents. These can once again stem from equipment malfunctioning. A few other components that increase the risk of electrical problems and trauma include the use of hoisting equipment near power lines and worn electrical cables.
Rigging accidents can result in a wide array of injuries. Some of the most common ones include:
- Bone fractures, sprains, and strains
- Torn and ripped ligaments or muscles
- Spinal cord injuries
- Traumatic brain injuries
- Burns and chemical burns
- Eye and ear injuries
- Limb amputations
Anyone who gets injured in an offshore accident will require a thorough medical evaluation. This is important even in the case of injuries that appear to be minor. Something that doesn’t seem to be quite serious for the time being could potentially have long-lasting consequences, and the sooner an evaluation occurs, the better.
Hidden injuries are also highly likely in the case of a rigging accident. Chemical exposure, for example, will become evident later on. A medic will know what types of tests to perform to make sure that the consequences of the accident aren’t going to be serious ones.
OSHA Rigging Safety Standards
OSHA has a set of strictly defined guidelines to ensure rigging safety. The administration requires both the proper training of workers and the provision of functional equipment for the execution of tasks without a risk of injuries.
According to OSHA safety requirements:
- All rigging gear has to be inspected prior to the start of a new shift to minimize the risk of failure
- Defective items have to be removed and replaced immediately
- Slings have to be used with padding over sharp corners
- An inspection for overhead power lines should always be performed prior to lifting
- Tag lines have to be provided on loads that are likely to swing
- Riggers have to remain at a safe position at any given time, especially when swinging loads are involved
- Workers are to never position themselves underneath the load, and they should never ride a load or hook
Pursuing Financial Compensation after a Rigging Accident
Rigging accidents that stem from negligence entitle a party that has been injured to pursue compensation from an employer.
An accident that occurs on a navigable ship is covered under the Jones Act. In such an instance, it will be possible to prove negligence when a rope breaks or hoisting equipment malfunctions, for example. If this happens, several parties could be identified as negligent. These include the employer of the injured seaman, the vessel owner, the captain or even a crew member.