Top Occupational Safety Violations in Louisiana’s Maritime Industry

Maritime workers ply their trade in extraordinary places, whether on the deck of a ship, at the helm of a ferry, on a dockside loading bay or on an offshore oil rig.

Every day, the country’s 400,000 maritime workers put themselves in danger, risking serious maritime work accidentsincluding burns, brain damage, loss of limb, spinal injuries, respiratory problems, broken bones and even death.

In shipyards, they work in tight spaces, dodging forklifts and scaling great heights while restoring the exteriors of boats. At sea, on oil rigs, they maintain heavy and complex equipment while working near dangerous liquids, even in bad weather.

Although offshore workers in Louisiana may have unusual workplaces compared to brick-and-mortar buildings, there is no doubt that they should enjoy the same protections as all other workers in America, including those afforded by the Jones Law as well as safety regulations administered by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).

Types of Maritime Labor Safety Violations

OSHA is part of the US Department of Labor. It is responsible for ensuring safe and healthy working conditions by setting and enforcing standards and providing training, awareness, education and assistance. OSHA outlines the marine industry as including “…the construction, repair and scrapping of ships, and the movement of cargo and other materials”, maritime hazards being slips, trips and falls, machinery hazards and equipment, hazardous chemicals, confined hazards/closed spaces and fire hazards.

June 16, insurance journal published an article on OSHA’s annual top 10 workplace safety violations for the fiscal year ending in 2021. While the marine industry was not the only focus, on-site risks Offshore work certainly comes into play. The report can serve as a reminder that maritime workers and the business owners who employ them need to make sure they follow safety rules.

At the top of OSHA’s list, with more than 5,000 citations issued, are “fall protection” violations, with many falls occurring “near unprotected edges or sides and onto steep roofs. or less inclined surfaces”.

Those familiar with boats and other marine workplaces know that slip-and-fall accidents are a constant safety concern when it comes to personal injury at sea. Due to crashing waves, slippery decks, and ropes and lines cluttering walkways, slip-and-fall accidents are the leading cause of injury to offshore workers. When falls occur, not only are people injured, but marine workers are at risk of falling overboard and drowning.

The OSHA list also includes several other safety protection violations that affect the marine industry, including:

  • Lack of respiratory protection for employees. This includes violations for lack of a respiratory protection program, failure to perform required fit testing and/or lack of medical evaluations.
  • Ladder and scaffolding violations for structurally deficient ladders, a lack of side rails extending three feet beyond a landing surface, and improper use of ladders.
  • Hazard communication violations included the lack of a written hazard communication program, inadequate training, and/or failure to develop and maintain safety data sheets.
  • Fall protection training differs from fall protection in that the violations were due to failure to give required fall protection training and failure to certify fall protection training in writing against falls.
  • Violations of eye and face protection were due to the failure to use proper eye or face protection by employees exposed to flying objects, molten metal, liquid chemicals, acids or caustic liquids.
  • Machinery guarding violations have been cited regarding the guarding of machinery to protect operators and other workers from hazards, such as lack of guarding at the point of operation and improper anchoring of machinery.
  • Violations regarding failures in the safe use of motorized industrial trucks. This includes forklifts and motorized hand trucks. The main causes of violations were unsafe operation, lack of refresher training and evaluation, lack of training and evaluation certification, and failure to review equipment for unfavorable conditions.

Although OSHA’s report is based on data from a wide range of industries, it can and should be used by those working in the marine industry as a reminder, making sure they are practicing workplace safety at every turn while reminding maritime business owners of their legal requirements to keep everyone safe.

Whether you work on an offshore oil rig, on one of the many barges carrying cargo, or inside a shipyard, business owners in the offshore industry need to provide the right working environment. as safe as possible. If you are an offshore worker who has been injured on the job, find out your legal rights from an expert Louisiana Maritime Lawyer by contacting Herman, Herman & Katz at (504) 581-4892 or on line for a free case review.