While various statutes and OSHA safety provisions regulate the work in shipyards, ship building accidents will still occur. Shipbuilders have specific rights, and they may be entitled to financial compensation in the case of injuries or trauma.
Individuals that work in shipyards are covered by the Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act (LHWCA). A few categories of workers that are excluded from LHWCA coverage include shipbuilders who put together recreational vessels (length under 65 feet), repairmen for recreational vessels and marina employees.
LHWCA enables employees to file claims whenever their injuries result from employer negligence. Under LHWCA, workers may be entitled to benefits totaling 66 and 2/3 percent of the worker’s average weekly wage, permanent disability, medical expenses and death benefits.
OSHA Shipbuilding Safety Standards
A number of OSHA standards apply to individuals who are employed in the industry of vessel manufacturing. These standards establish safety procedures that aim to reduce the risk of accidents and subsequent injuries or death.
Section 1915.501 highlights the general safety provisions. Employers are required to have a fire safety plan; they need precautions for hot work, safety equipment, emergency procedures, employee training and procedures for work in enclosed spaces.
These standards are a part of the Occupational Safety and Health Standards for Shipyard Employment. The document was adopted in 1982 to provide unified safety and health regulations pursuant to Section 41 of LHWCA. These provisions apply to all shipyards, ship building, repair and shipbreaking facilities.
Common Safety Hazards
Individuals involved in ship manufacturing can be exposed to an array of safety hazards. A few of the most common dangers in this line of work include:
- Exposure to toxic chemicals and poisoning
- Respiratory problems
- Welding and cutting accidents
- Risks stemming from the use of heavy equipment
- Risk of fires, burns, chemical burns
- Exposure to paint fumes
- Bone fractures, sprains, strains and other injuries
- Getting struck by heavy equipment
- The loss of limbs
Fatalities could also occur in instances when workers aren’t provided with the necessary training or safety equipment. The malfunctioning of tools could also lead to a fatal outcome in common ship building processes.
Shipyard Accidents Occur Often
The US has seen a big number of ship building accidents through the years, even in situations when all safety precautions have been undertaken.
In 1987, six people died, and six were injured in a San Diego shipyard accident. The men were in a crane-operated steel basket, which came loose and caused a 30-foot free fall. As a result of the fall, the basket landed on top of one of the workers.
A shipyard worker in Nova Scotia sustained serious injuries in 2014. The employer – Irving Shipbuilding Inc. admitted responsibility in terms of failing to undertake the necessary safety precautions. Because of employer negligence, a worker was struck by a wire cable and sustained head trauma. His skull was fractured, and the worker was also diagnosed with brain injury.
The company was ordered to pay 50,000 dollars in penalties. The company was scheduled to go to court, but it pleaded out of the charges by accepting full responsibility for the accident and the injuries sustained by the worker.
Inspection after the accident revealed improper torquing of the wire cables. The employee operating the winch had no experience with such equipment, which also contributed to the accident. The winch hadn’t been inspected properly, and the pull was way beyond the capacity that it was rated with by the manufacturer.