Commercial fishing is a risky industry. Workers face unpredictable and uncontrollable elements when they are at sea, and they have limited options for how they can respond in various situations. However, there are many steps commercial fishermen can take to keep themselves and each other as safe as possible despite the risks. In December 2017, the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) published a report on safe housekeeping and sanitation practices in commercial fishing that outlines ways fishermen can prevent injuries and fatalities.
Unfortunately, despite your best efforts, you may still get hurt while working as a commercial fisherman. When your injury is not the result of an act of god, but instead, is the result of someone else’s carelessness, then you may have the right to seek compensation. In certain scenarios, you may be entitled benefits no matter who is at fault.
To learn more about the legal options following commercial fishing injuries, contact The Krist Law Firm, P.C. at (281) 283-8500 to schedule a consultation with one of our maritime accident lawyers.
Many Commercial Fishing Injuries Are Preventable
Injuries in the commercial fishing industry are not all caused by unpredictable weather and water conditions. While these contribute to accidents, many injuries and fatalities are related to conditions on the ships. OSHA reported 28 percent of commercial fishing injuries occur because of coming into contact with objects and equipment. This could mean items are not as secured on the ship as they should be.
12 percent of injuries are the results of slips, trips, and falls, which may indicate the ship is not kept as clean as it should be, or that workers lack the proper non-slip gear.
Eight percent of injuries are the result of exposure to harmful substances. This could indicate improper storage as well as improper training or supervision.
Preventing Commercial Fishing Injuries
There are many ways commercial fishing ship owners can reduce the risk of injuries to their crew. OSHA recommends concentrating on working and walking surfaces. All surfaces should be clean and free of debris. There should be secured areas for garbage, which are emptied every day. Equipment, materials, hoses, and cords must have properly secured and safe storage areas where they will not fall on workers or fall to the floor where they become tripping hazards. Slipping conditions need to be eliminated wherever possible, through cleaning, the use of grates or temporary flooring with standing water, and slip-resistant footwear.
Other means to prevent slips, trips, and falls is to ensure entrances and exits remain clear, and that there is proper lighting throughout the ship. Protocol and equipment availability should ensure workers only enter dark areas with a portable light or flashlight.
Cleanliness is also important to keep workers healthy. Every ship needs to have adequate toilet facilities, which either have or are adjacent to places for workers to wash their hands. For the entire ship, including restroom facilities, there needs to be a cleaning schedule. Additionally, all areas of the ship should be inspected for insects, rodents, and other vermin. If there is ever an issue, a control program should be implemented quickly.
Were You Injured While Working at Sea?
If you work on a ship or boat and were injured in the course of your job, call The Krist Law Firm, P.C. right away. We have years of experience handling commercial fishing injuries and know these are far different than a typical car accident or workers’ compensation claim. Various federal maritime laws may apply to your situation and determine your right to benefits or compensation, such as maintenance and cure and The Jones Act.
To discuss your rights after being hurt while working offshore, contact us today at (281) 283-8500 to schedule a consultation.