The Port of Houston is the lifeblood of the region, connecting the fourth largest city in the United States to the world. A sprawling complex, encompassing dozens of refineries and hundreds of terminals for gas, oil, and containers, the Port of Houston relies on a 50-mile channel that enables some of the largest vessels on the planet to reach the Gulf of Mexico. According to a 2015 study by Martin Associates, the port and its channel support over a million jobs in Texas, and impact a further 1.6 million jobs across the country.
However, these careers are not for everyone, and not all of these jobs are safe. While many, if not most, of those employed thanks to the Port and Channel of Houston, might spend their days safely in offices, there are tens of thousands of maritime and logistics professionals physically present on the docks and in the water. Working under demanding schedules and constantly surrounded by heavy and fast-moving equipment, these longshoremen, dock workers, truck drivers, and pilots face the risk of serious injury or death on a daily basis.
If you or a loved one have been seriously injured in a maritime accident, contact the Houston personal injury attorneys at The Krist Law Firm, P.C. for a free and confidential discussion about your rights and legal options. Call (281) 283-8500 or contact us online.
Understanding the Risks of a Job in the Port of Houston
There are hundreds of vastly different job types on the ground and in the waters of the Port of Houston. But they all share two things in common: These jobs pay well and can be quite dangerous.
Here are the five most dangerous Port of Houston jobs:
- Hand laborers and material movers–These individuals handle freight and materials inside the Port of Houston’s warehouses, sorting and transferring cargo onto trucks and trains. Often they use machinery like forklifts, but sometimes they move material with their hands and backs. According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), the laborers experience around 3,000 injuries and five fatalities per 100,000 workers.
- Firefighters–Firefighting is always a dangerous profession, but the stakes are even higher for firefighters who work in ports. Unlike normal firefighters, those who work in ports are exposed to the additional risks posed by water, weather, and heavy machinery. Furthermore, the Port of Houston handles huge quantities of petroleum, natural gas, and other flammable materials. Explosions and fires are common occurrences, and firefighters are always on the front line in this type of emergency.
- Truck and tractor operators–Truck drivers work long hours and face the daily risk of accidents on the open road. But when they work in busy ports, the risk of accidents is compounded. The presence of heavy machinery, hectic schedules, and cramped quarters mean that truck accidents in ports are not only more frequent, they are more deadly.
- Longshoremen–These maritime workers are usually charged with loading and unloading cargo from ships. Some might be crane operators, while others might be on the dock or on deck, where the risk of crush injuries, amputations, and drowning is very high. Sometimes, longshoremen also engage in construction and transportation duties, which also present risks. However, these risks are offset by salaries that can reach over $100,000 a year.
- Harbor Pilots–State and federal regulations require that ships entering the Port of Houston be piloted by a local harbor pilot. Knowledge of tight channels, sandbars, and tides is essential in safely guiding large vessels to port. This is one of the highest paying jobs in the port, with salaries often exceeding $400,000 per year. But it’s a dangerous job. Harbor pilots must climb aboard ships in the open seas with rope ladders. Since 2006, six harbor pilots have died in ladder accidents.
There are many other dangerous Port of Houston jobs. Welders, especially those who work underwater, steamfitters, security guards, and construction workers also face higher than average risks on the job.
How a Houston Maritime Accident Lawyer Can Help
Many maritime workers enjoy long and lucrative careers without ever suffering a significant injury. Others are not so lucky. At The Krist Law Firm, P.C. we are dedicated to helping these maritime professionals to overcome the debilitating effects of a job-related injury. The road to compensation can be long and difficult to navigate, but our Houston personal injury attorneys are here to make the process as smooth as possible.
If you or a family member has been injured while working in the Port of Houston, call us today at (281) 283-8500 for a free consultation about your case.