Could the Risk of Cruise Ship Injury Threaten the Future of Cruising in Europe?

cruise ship injury

Do the recent reports of cruise ship injury or illness have you re-thinking your summer plans? A recent cruise ship accident in Venice, Italy may be doing just that for tourists on the famed canals.  Last week, a massive cruise ship plowed into a riverboat and a concrete dock on a busy canal.

This accident follows a cruise accident in Hungary, which resulted in 10 deaths and at least a dozen missing persons.  These collisions have renewed interest in current regulations and restrictions on cruising in European cities.

The Crash in Venice

It seems unbelievable that towering cruise ships could wander the fabled canals of Venice, but it is true.  Relying on tugboats and advanced technology to guide the ships safely, passengers and Venetian residents marvel at the behemoth ships as they glide through the crowded canals of the ancient metropolis.

What may be a marvel of technology turned into a mistake, however, when a 65,500 ton cruise ship smashed into a small riverboat and then into a dock in the crowded Giudecca Canal.  The scene was chaotic with the massive ship, the MSC Opera, blaring its horn as the smaller riverboat attempted to maneuver to safety in the crowded waterway.  Unfortunately, those efforts seemed futile, and five people sustained  an undisclosed cruise ship injury.

Despite public outrage and an investigation by the Italian authorities, the cause of the cruise ship crash remains unknown.  Authorities are reviewing the information stored on the ship’s black box expecting to find evidence of technical malfunction.

After undergoing minor hull repairs, the MSC Opera resumed its itinerary just days after the crash.

The Deadly Crash in Budapest

Disturbing and horrifying in its own right, the crash in Venice seemed especially dramatic because only four days prior, a cruise ship on the Danube River in Budapest, Hungary caused an accident that killed 10 people and left another 18 missing.

The two accidents happening in such close succession highlighted the importance of safety regulations for cruise ships that navigate narrow metropolitan waterways such as the Venetian canals and the Danube in Budapest.  Both spots are popular and crowded tourist destinations where the risk of a cruise ship injury is high when things go wrong.

Cruise Ship Injury Risk Causes Concern Among Cruise Lines, Officials, and Lawmakers

There are some who say massive cruise ships like the Viking Sigyn in Budapest and the MSC Opera in Venice should not be allowed on the waterways in busy city centers.  Among those calling for a ban on cruise ships in cities are the mayors of both Budapest and Venice.

In Venice, opponents suggest restricting cruise ships to a terminal far outside the waters of the lagoon that flows into the canals.  This, of course, removes the charm for cruise ship passengers who surely must enjoy cruising through the canals of the historic city.  A terminal outside the city also presents a logistical problem to the cruise ship crew members who would have to figure out how to transport their passengers from the ship into the city.

Plans of this sort have stymied in bureaucratic struggles, with proponents of the cruising industry correctly pointing out that, by Italian law, passenger traffic must be separate from industrial and commercial traffic for the safety of the cruise ship passengers.  Not to mention, the canal path takes passengers past St.  Mark’s Square in Venice at the mouth of the Giudecca Canal, and cruise ship companies are reluctant to lose such a key attraction.

Adding to the outrage over the recent rash of cruise ship crashes, injuries, and related deaths, environmental campaigners are championing the cause of a total ban for cruise ships in the lagoon waters of Venice.

Environmental Concerns in Venice

Environmentalists are also concerned with the fragile ecosystem of the Venetian lagoon.  They say ocean-faring cruise ships:

  • Displace water
  • Wear down ancient building foundations
  • Cause air pollution
  • Damage the lagoon environment by dredging up mud

There has been a measurable degradation of the lagoon waters in the last century as they slowly change into more of a harbor or bay than the famous lagoon.  In the last 100 years, the canals that once stood at a mere 16 inches, are now five feet deep.

Consumer Demand Remains Despite the Risk of Cruise Ship Injury

Despite the reports of cruise ship injury, illness, or death, political posturing, and the unthinkable threat of the destruction of the priceless Venetian canals, public demand for pleasure cruising is undiminished.  Venice has twice the traffic of any other port in the Adriatic area.  The city is one of the most popular destinations in the world for cruise ships.

Last year, cruise ships:

  • Glided past St.  Mark’s Square or the Guidecca Canal 1,004 times
  • Carried more than 1.5 million passengers
  • Increased in both traffic and passenger numbers

In other cities where massive cruise ships meet a metropolis, pleasure cruise trips are also increasing.  In Budapest, having more than 100 cruise ships docked within the city is routine.  Overall, European markets have seen a 72 percent increase in cruise passenger numbers.

Experts predict the tragic crashes and reports of cruise ship injury in Venice and Budapest will not negatively impact the global demand for cruises.

Injury on a Cruise Ship: What are Your Rights?

No one expects to be injured while vacationing, but the reality is that accidents can happen anywhere, at anytime.  As far as a cruise ship injury, as long as it occurs onboard a ship and was caused by negligence, passengers can file a claim to hold the cruise line financially responsible.

Cruise lines may be held responsible for the costs of any illness or injury that passengers suffer due to hazards, unsafe environments, or negligence among operators or cruise staff.  Dramatic crashes like these are not the only situations in which it is possible to sue for a cruise ship injury.

Speak to a maritime injury attorney if you have experienced any of the following while aboard a cruise ship:

  • Food poisoning or foodborne illness
  • Legionnaires’ Disease
  • Slip and fall accidents
  • Accidents on elevators and escalators
  • Swimming pool accidents
  • Bedbug bites
  • Injuries from unsecured objects that fell from upper decks or overhead compartments
  • Fires

It is also possible to hold a cruise line responsible for any injury suffered while participating in activities sponsored by the cruise line.  This can be something of a gray area because it may not be obvious which company is sponsoring on-shore activities.

Get Help With a Cruise Ship Injury Claim

If you have experienced an injury or illness while on a cruise, seek the advice of an experienced maritime injury attorney.  If your injuries were related to negligence, you may be eligible to pursue compensation for your injuries and any related expenses.  Examples of negligence include:

  • Cruise staff leaving objects in walkways
  • Cruise staff failing to warn passengers about a danger or hazard
  • Ships operating in unsafe weather conditions
  • Improperly maintained furnishings or equipment
  • Improperly operated activities or equipment
  • Cruise ship operators not paying attention

These are only a few examples of how negligence can result in a cruise ship injury.  If you have suffered an injury in a similar circumstance, Call Maritime Injury Guide to request a free consultation with one of our legal professionals.  Call us at 877-363-6148, or contact us online.

 

Source:

https://www.usatoday.com/story/travel/cruises/2019/06/04/venice-budapest-cruise-ship-crashes-renew-debate-safety-danube/1338126001/

 

What Should I do if I Suffer a Cruise Ship Injury?

cruise ship injury

When you plan a summer cruise, the last thing on your mind is the possibility that you could suffer a cruise ship injury.  Unfortunately, cruise ships are not immune to accidents, injuries, or illness.  In fact, cruise ships have some unique risks that land-based vacation destinations may not.

If you are planning to take a cruise this summer, here are some tips for what you should do if you suffer a cruise ship injury.

Get Medical Attention

The first thing you should do after a cruise ship injury is get medical attention.  Every major cruise line equips ships with an on-board clinic.  These clinics are staffed with a doctor and nurses, and are generally equipped to manage minor injuries and illnesses.  If the clinic cannot manage your injury, you will be kept comfortable and stable until you can be transported to a hospital.

Clinic staff are most often contractors, which means that they do not work directly for the cruise line.  That means that if you have questions, concerns, or complaints about your medical care while on the ship, the cruise line will be limited in what they can offer.

Report the Cruise Ship Injury

Cruise ship companies and staff are required to follow certain safety guidelines.  When cruise ship injury occurs, staff must follow protocols in documenting and investigating the injury.  If you are injured while on a cruise ship, make sure that the accident and injuries are reported to staff.  If you give a statement, make sure you are careful what you say.  Stick to the facts, and avoid arguing blame.  Make sure you get a copy of the official report.

Document Your Cruise Ship Injury

In addition to obtaining a copy of the accident report, it is a good idea to document the accident and injuries yourself.  Make notes of when, where, and how the accident happened.  If you can, take photographs of the accident scene and your injuries.

If you are able to do so, get contact information for witnesses who may have seen what happened.  It is very difficult to locate witnesses after-the-fact since cruises are comprised of travelers from all over the world.  It can also be difficult getting statements from cruise staff after the ship has moved on.

Contact a Maritime Injury Lawyer

After a cruise ship injury, it is very important to contact a maritime injury lawyer to discuss your accident and injuries.  You may be entitled to financial compensation if your injuries were the result of negligence.  A maritime injury lawyer can help you determine the best options for your situation.

At Maritime Injury Guide, our maritime injury lawyers can help you understand and protect your legal rights.  We will carefully review the details of your cruise ship injury to determine if you have a maritime injury claim.  If so, we will make sure that your claim is filed within the statute of limitations (deadline).

We will also make sure that you have legal support throughout the claims process.  We are experienced communicating and negotiating with insurance companies and cruise lines.  No matter what sort of injury you suffered, we can help.  To get started, fill out our online form to schedule a free injury consultation.

What Popular Cruise Ships Failed CDC Sanitation Inspections?

cruise ships

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) inspect cruise ships twice a year.  The agency recently published their report of which vessels had too many violations to pass the most recent inspection.  In the confined and self-contained world of a cruise ship, sanitation is vitally important to prevent the spread of illnesses – foodborne and otherwise.

Cruise Ships that Failed Inspection

Of the dozens of cruise ships that were included in the CDC’s Vessel Sanitation Program, eight received a score of 85 or lower.  Scores are calculated out of a total of 100.   The CDC labels a score of less than 85 as “unsatisfactory.” Some of the unsanitary and unsatisfactory ships are part of very popular cruise lines.

The eight ships that scored below 85 include:

  • Un-Cruise Adventures ship Safari Endeavor
  • Silversea Cruises ship Silver Wind
  • Silversea Cruises ship Silver Spirit
  • Oceania Cruises ship Oceania Insignia
  • Compagnie du Ponant ship Le Boreal
  • Norwegian Cruise Lines ship Norwegian Breakaway
  • Japan Grace ship Ocean Dream
  • Japan Cruise Line ship Pacific Venus

These eight ships each have an “unsatisfactory” score.  In addition, several other ships hover right above that designation with scores of 86 or 87.

Unsanitary Violations

Cruise ship safety is definitely something to consider before scheduling a trip.  Consider some of the more stomach-churning violations reported by the CDC:

  • An improper onboard potable water inspection system
  • Onboard water supplies that had not been tested for E.  coli
  • Whirlpool spas without filtration systems
  • Housekeeping food items (such as creamer and sugar for passenger rooms) stored underneath exposed and filthy wires in a closet.

The ship with the lowest score overall was the Pacific Venus with an ignoble and unsettling score of 76.  The score was so low for this ship because she received violation after violation for her onboard water systems.  Further, very little about the vessel’s potable water system passed the CDC’s inspection due to concerns over microbial life in the water supply.

Most disturbing of all were the inspector notes regarding the ship’s ice machines and systems.  Inspectors noted both “black debris” and “pink and brown debris” in the ice machines, as well as a “reddish purple drip” from one ice machine.

Most Violations Happened in the Kitchens

Though the Pacific Venus’s inspection showed a spectacular lack of understanding of cruise ship sanitation practices, many of the other ships lost points for violations in their kitchens.  Arguably the most dangerous, and certainly the most off-putting, kitchen sanitation violations abounded in the remaining seven ships that failed inspection.

CDC investigators observed:

  • Improper records of inventory of perishable foods
  • Dirty and soiled containers of food in refrigerators
  • Food in refrigerators past their “discard by” dates
  • Black debris that resembled black mold in an ice machine
  • Black debris on the outer surfaces of an ice machine
  • Several ships lost points due to the presence of fruit flies in their kitchen.

On a cruise ship or anywhere else, fruit flies in a kitchen are cause for concern.  Fruit flies are basically sponges for bacteria and foodborne illness.  The tiny insects feed on rotting food.  Where their diminutive feet touch food, they leave a footprint of all bacteria that can be found thriving in rot and filth.

Fruit flies are known carriers of the pathogens that give people food poisoning.  Female fruit flies will also lay eggs on the surface of fruits and other foods, which can be consumed by people if the food wasn’t washed prior to consumption.

 

What Happens When Passengers Get Sick on Cruise Ships

Though the eight cruise ships above failed to meet CDC sanitation standards, as far as we know there have not been any major outbreaks of illness aboard these ships.  Even on a cruise ship that passes inspection with flying colors, you can still catch a foodborne illness or get sick otherwise.

Cruise lines do their best to minimize the number of passengers with communicable diseases on board.  If you cruise frequently, you are probably familiar with the health and wellness questionnaire you fill out as you board and register.  Passengers with symptoms of gastroenteritis (stomach flu) or other illnesses will sometimes be evaluated by the ship’s doctor before joining the cruise officially.

If you become ill during the course of a cruise, you can visit the infirmary, which is usually staffed with a physician and several nurses.  The care that you can receive aboard a cruise ship is very limited.  For life threatening situations or serious illness, the cruise ship’s health team will only stabilize you until you can be moved to an on-shore medical facility.

Risk Factors for Cruise Ship Illness

A couple of other things to keep in mind about becoming ill on a cruise ship:

  • Confined and crowded environments promote the swift spread of disease.  If you become ill aboard a ship, it’s best to stay isolated in your cabin until it passes.
  • Preventative measures are the best way to avoid foodborne and other contagious illnesses while on a cruise.  Wash your hands frequently and avoid touching objects in public places that collect germs like handrails, buffet tongs, and elevator buttons.
  • Medications, both prescription and over the counter, will be available for you to buy if the onboard doctor thinks you need them, but you will be charged a premium price.
  • The cruise doctor foodborne illness.  The costs of your care will be added to your onboard account.

Headed On a Cruise?

If you are making plans to take a cruise this summer, don’t cancel your trip just yet.  The CDC report found several cruise ships that scored a perfect 100 for sanitation practices.  Since the CDC conducts these sanitation checks twice yearly, check back with them frequently.  This will help you determine if you need to alter your plans.

Have You Become Sick While on a Cruise Ship? Talk to Maritime Injury Lawyers

Within reason, cruise lines have a responsibility to protect their customers from illness and injury.  The gross negligence of sanitation perpetrated by the eight cruise ships who failed the CDC inspection created a dangerous environment for all passengers.  Customers who cruised aboard those ships risked exposure to bacteria including E.  coli, food poisoning, and the toxicity of black mold.

If you or someone you love has required medical attention after becoming ill while on a cruise ship, you may have legal recourse.  If the cause of your illness was neglected sanitation, your rights may have been violated.  Find out more by calling Maritime Injury Guide at 1-877-363-6148.  You can also contact us via our online form.

 

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U.S. Coast Guard Rescues Maritime Worker with Neck Injury

 

neck injury

A U.S. Coast Guard helicopter crew airlifted a 28-year-old seafarer to the hospital after he suffered a serious neck injury.  The maritime worker was aboard an oil tanker when he reportedly slipped and fell.  The accident happened off the coast of San Francisco onboard the d’Amico product tanker High Progress.

Maritime Neck Injury Caused by Slip and Fall Accident

On May 8, 2019 the Coast Guard received notification that a seafarer onboard the High Progress had apparently fallen and suffered a serious neck injury during his workday.  The Coast Guard helicopter crew could not take off immediately because of “aircraft limitations.”  The watchstanders remained in constant contact with the High Progress in order to monitor the injured man’s condition.  The tanker stayed its course headed towards San Francisco.

At 4:20 a.m.  the following morning, an Air Station San Francisco MH-65 Dolphin helicopter crew reached the oil tanker, which was still around 65 miles from the coast.   The helicopter crew successfully hoisted the injured man aboard and took him to Stanford Medical Center in Palo Alto, California.

Lt.  Andrew Bacon, Helicopter pilot at the Coast Guard Air Station in San Francisco, credited the quick reaction of the High Progress crew for the successful transfer of the injured man.  He said their early recognition of the severity of the neck injury and subsequent call for help was absolutely essential to the successful rescue of their crew member.  Had they waited any longer, the aircraft limitations the Coast Guard faced before they were able to dispatch the rescue mission could have proved fatal for the injured seafarer.

Neither the crewmembers nor the Coast Guard have released any information about the specific function the injured man performed aboard the High Progress, or the severity of his neck injury.

The Perils of a Maritime Work Environment

Maritime workers are no strangers to the risk of injury in the course of their work.   No matter what specific job a seamen actually performs on a daily basis, all maritime workers face risks.  Maritime workers are at risk of injury from:

The best protection against injuries is prevention.   Experienced seafarers who have spent any amount of time aboard a commercial vessel know that working safely is the key to surviving a maritime career.   However, the safest and most careful worker in the world cannot protect him or herself from slippery surfaces, malfunctioning equipment, equipment in poor repair, or other hazards that should not be present in a maritime working environment.

Maritime Neck Injury

There are a lot of different ways a maritime worker could suffer a neck injury while aboard a ship.   Maritime work can be lucrative, but it is notoriously dangerous.   A crew member could suffer a neck injury after a slip-and-fall, such as the man who was recently rescued off the coast of San Francisco, or they could suffer muscle strain or even a disc injury from repetitive heavy lifting.

In the isolated world of a ship at sea, recognizing a potentially serious neck injury quickly is key to health and recovery for the injured worker.   Examples of neck injury maritime workers can suffer include:

  • Muscle strain
  • Ligament damage
  • Whiplash
  • Herniated Disc
  • Neck Fracture (broken cervical vertebrae)
  • Spinal Dislocation

Neck injuries vary in their degree of severity, but all are a cause for concern.   More serious neck injuries can put a stop to a promising maritime career and prevent a worker from earning a living.

What to Do after Suffering a Neck Injury Aboard a Ship

If you experience a neck injury while on the job, seek medical attention as soon as possible.  Under the Jones Act, Maritime workers have the right to see a physician of their own choice about any injuries they sustained at work.

If you think your working environment contributed to your injury, be sure to tell your doctor that you are considering legal action.  A neck injury to the soft tissue, such as a sprain or a ligament injury, can be a little difficult to prove after the fact because such an injury will not be visible on an X-ray.

For a neck injury sustained in a maritime work environment, a physician should make note of:

  • Diminished range of Mobility
  • Pain
  • Any muscle spasms
  • Swelling
  • Bruising
  • Any visible deformity or injury
  • Any way in which this injury will prevent you from doing your job

After any sort of injury in a maritime work environment, consult with an experienced maritime injury attorney to find out what your rights are under the Jones Act.

Types of Negligence Covered by the Jones Act

To be eligible for relief under the Jones Act, any injury must be caused by someone else’s actions or negligence.  Employers have a responsibility to properly train their seamen before allowing them to perform duties aboard a ship.  They also have a responsibility to maintain the work environment and keep equipment in good working order.

Examples of why an employer may be found negligent for a worker’s neck injury are:

  • Failure to provide workers with appropriate safety gear
  • Failing to post appropriate warning signs around hazardous areas or materials
  • Failure to prevent slippery surfaces on the vessel decks
  • Allowing seamen to work on a vessel that is not seaworthy

Help for Injured Maritime Workers

If you work on a commercial vessel, you know the dangers that you face every day on the job.  You may not know how crucially important it is to seek medical attention immediately after a neck injury.   If you have pain, discomfort, swelling, headaches, or other symptoms that last longer than one week, see a doctor.   These symptoms could indicate a more serious neck injury.

Maritime workers work hard for their living, and they value their physical health.   When you are injured due to your employer’s negligence, establishing a history of treatment from the very beginning is essential to pursuing a maritime injury claim.

If you have suffered a neck injury or any other type of bodily injury while working aboard a ship, you may be entitled to relief under the Jones Act.  Contact Maritime Injury Guide at 1-877-363-6148 to learn more about your rights.  You can also contact us online to schedule a free injury consultation.

 

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8 Injured by Falling Crane in Disastrous Shipyard Accident

One of the largest cruise ships in the world, Royal Caribbean’s Oasis of the Seas, is the subject of worldwide media attention after a catastrophic shipyard accident injured eight shipyard workers.  The massive cruise liner was resting at dry dock and undergoing routine maintenance in the Great Bahamas Shipyard near Freeport, Bahamas when a construction crane fell over onto the deck of the cruise ship.

By sheer good fortune, the crane happened to fall during the workers’ lunch hour.  A crew foreman was quoted as saying more workers would have been injured had the crane fallen even an hour earlier or later in the day.  It is also fortunate that the cruise ship happened to be out of service at the time of the accident.  There were no passengers on the ship when the crane fell.

shipyard accident

Shipyard Accident Injures 8, Causes Damage

The structures of the ship, specifically the decks, were badly damaged.  The crane that fell is also badly damaged.  Pictures and video showing the gigantic crane crushing against the decks of the cruise ship spread rapidly across social media within hours of the disaster.

The ship is massive, with a capacity of more than 6,500 guests when it is in service. It also has capacity for more than 2,000 crew members.   Most often, the Oasis of the Seas sails from ports in Florida.  The cruise liner had just completed a crowded voyage within days of the shipyard accident.

At this time neither the workers on the ground, any eyewitnesses, nor the owners of the ship know what caused the crane to fall.  At the moment, the company is still assessing damages.

The eight people injured in the shipyard accident were all laborers working on the ship to prepare her for the Fall/Winter season.  The ship was not docked for major repairs but was receiving routine maintenance and care before sailing to Miami to start a new season of cruising.

Initially when the crane fell, the scene on the ground was chaos.  For the first several hours after the incident many of the eight injured workers were considered missing.  Three days passed before Royal Caribbean, who owns the ship, made an announcement disclosing the total number of injuries.  Their statement indicates that, though eight workers were injured in this shipyard accident, none of the injuries are life-threatening.

The Chaos at the Scene

Perhaps the reason this story captured worldwide attention is due to a video posted on social media by an anonymous dock worker the day of the incident.   He was present on the deck when the crane fell and narrowly avoided catastrophic injury.   He said, “I have never seen anything like this in my lifetime.”

The crane was in use at a nearby construction site and miraculously did not harm anyone on the ground.  All of the injured victims in this shipyard accident were dock workers on the deck of the Oasis of the Seas.

Interviews from eyewitnesses refer to this accident as a disaster and frequently remark on the incredibly loud noise and the panic at the scene, especially during the time when the injured workers were initially missing.

An Unlucky Cruise Ship?

The Oasis of the Seas sailed for the first time in December 2009 and is worth $1.5 billion.  The massive ocean liner was last in the news when more than 150 passengers on a week-long trip became ill with norovirus, a foodborne illness.

Though notoriously superstitious, none of the crew members, shipyard workers, or other employees of the cruise ship have made any comment on the bad luck that apparently attends this ill-fated vessel.

Cruise Ship Worker Injuries

Tongue-in-cheek comments aside, ports and shipyards are among some of the most dangerous workplaces in the world.  A disaster of the magnitude of this shipyard accident is relatively rare, but shipyard worker injuries are sadly common.  The following are some of the most common types of injuries shipyard workers sustain:

  • Crane injuries – Most crane injuries are caused by the heavy loads they move and the industrial cables in use.   Cargo can slip from the grasp of the crane, or hauling cables can snap and cause catastrophic injury to shipyard workers.
  • Falls from ladders and steps – Ships are famously replete with ladders and steps.  Maritime workers and dock workers are generally light-footed and nimble as they move about the ship.   However falls and slips are some of the most common injuries among workers.
  • Traumatic bodily injuries – Heavy loads and heavy machinery combine to create dangerous conditions for shipyard workers.  Head injuries, limb amputations, concussions, and crush injuries are all hazards that maritime workers face.
  • Drowning – Any work that takes place near or on the open sea comes with the risk of drowning.  Drowning and hypothermia are two risks that shipyard workers face every day at work.

Injured in a Shipyard Accident? Consult with Maritime Injury Attorneys

Shore-based workers who sustain injury while working on a vessel docked in navigable waters are entitled to the protections offered in the Jones Act.  Unfortunately for the workers injured in this shipyard accident, the Oasis of the Seas was docked in a shipyard.  Therefore, the Jones act does not apply.

The Longshore Harbor and Workers’ Compensation Act (LHWCA) protects workers injured while not on navigable waters but rather in nearby areas such as in shipyards.  Maritime workers protected under the LHWCA may seek damages for their injuries and lost wages.  Not all Maritime workers will qualify for relief under the LHWCA.  Speak to a maritime injury attorney to learn more.

Maritime Injury Guide attorneys appreciate the daily dangers that shipyard workers face.  We know that navigating the complicated laws surrounding shipyard accidents can be daunting.  Our attorneys have decades of experience fighting for the rights of injured maritime workers.  We can help guide you through this trying time.  If you have been injured while working at a dock, harbor, or shipyard, call 1-877-363-6148, or submit our online contact form.

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U.S. District Court Reinstates Asbestos Claims Against Shipowners

asbestos claims

Decades ago, hundreds of thousands of maritime workers filed lawsuits against shipowners and companies alleging that they had exposed them to asbestos.  A large portion of those asbestos claims have remained stagnant since 1989, but now a District Court has reinstated claims filed by the estates of two sailors.

The U.S. District Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit has reinstated two lawsuits that were filed by the estates of two merchant marines.  In 1989, a federal judge in Ohio granted the defendants (shipowners) two options – a jurisdiction transfer or waiving their personal jurisdiction defense.  The defendants never technically waived their defense, but also did not take action beyond requesting additional time to decide.

District Court Reinstates Asbestos Claims

The District Court’s decision to reinstate asbestos claims has created a split with the Sixth Circuit.  In 2017, Kalama v. Matson Navigation, determined that the federal judge originally ruling in the cases in 1989 was outside his authority when the decision was made.

The original case involved thousands of lawsuits filed in the Northern District of Ohio, using a theory of nationwide jurisdiction.  In 1989, the defendants challenged the jurisdiction, stating that consolidation in Ohio was improper since the shipowners had no direct ties to the state.  The judge agreed.  However, instead of granting a motion to dismiss the case, the judge stated that the case would be transferred to the Eastern District of Pennsylvania.  The defendants requested additional time to decide between the transfer and waiving their jurisdictional defense.

In subsequent hearings, the defendants stated that they wanted to see how certain issues would be decided by the judge before making a decision, but the plaintiffs objected.  The judge told the defendants they must file their answer by the deadline if they decided to waive jurisdiction.

The defendants appealed, stating that they would file answers “under protest”.  Some defendants did file answers in 1990, but others failed to meet the deadline.  For a year following, no motions were made regarding jurisdiction.  Cases where the defendants did file their answers proceeded in the Ohio court system as if they had waived jurisdiction.  Other cases were transferred.

In 1991, the asbestos claims were consolidated into multidistrict litigation (MDL).  The cases were consolidated in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania as MDL No. 875.  Defendants opposed, but did not raise personal jurisdiction defense.  MDL 875 initially included more than 121,000 individual cases.  Since 1991, 108,000 have been dismissed, settled, or remanded.  Around 13,000 cases are still pending.

After remaining stagnant for years, in 2011, three asbestos claims were reactivated by a different judge who was then presiding over the MDL.  The MDL Court issued to memorandum opinions in 2013 and 2014, concluding that several shipowners did not qualify for personal jurisdiction in Ohio, and that they had not waived their defense.

The three merchant mariners’ claims were dismissed based on a lack of personal jurisdiction.  All three dismissals were promptly appealed.  One appeal was ultimately dismissed because of conflicting claims made in state court outside the statute of limitations.  The state’s case was also dismissed.

The two remaining cases have been found to be valid, with the Court reversing the dismissals after finding that the defendants had, in fact, waived personal jurisdiction defenses.  In their opinion, the Court stated:

Barring any additional preliminary matters, these 30-year-old cases should at last proceed to adjudication on the merit.”

What this means for these plaintiffs and their loved ones is that, finally, resolution may finally be on the horizon.

Information About Asbestos

Asbestos is comprised of six silicate minerals.  Under a microscope, asbestos looks like strands of long fibers.  Asbestos has a number of properties that make it so appealing to manufacturers, including:

  • It is Inert – There is little to no chemical reaction between asbestos and other materials.
  • Non-Flammable – Asbestos is non-flammable. It will not burn or catch on fire.
  • Non-Corrosive – Asbestos fibers do not corrode in water, underground, or in soil.
  • Tensile Strength – For such an incredibly lightweight substance, asbestos is incredibly strong. It does not stretch or snap, and improves tensile strength in other materials.
  • Availability – Asbestos became incredibly popular due to its availability. Mining asbestos ore was easy.
  • Economical – Asbestos is very cost-effective. It is common, lightweight, and easy to use and ship.  It became popular due to the value extended all the way to consumers.

Many people don’t realize that there is more than one type of asbestos.  Researchers have identified two groups – one with serpentine fibers, and the other with amphibole fibers. These can be broken down and categorized as white, brown, or blue.

asbestos claims

The different types of asbestos were used for different purposes, and each have unique health hazards.

History of Asbestos Use

Asbestos is a material that has existed for centuries.  Archeologists have found evidence of asbestos in items dating back 8,000 years.  Ancient civilizations discovered that asbestos fibers improved products and reduced flammability.  Asbestos fibers were used to make weapons, household items, and even burial shrouds.

But it didn’t take long for the material to be deemed dangerous.  Historical reports document Pliny the Elder of Rome observing that slaves were dying due to lung issues.  Here in the United States, asbestos has been used widely since the 1800’s.  During the Industrial Revolution, raw asbestos became incredibly popular, and over the next century would be used to manufacture more than 3,000 products.

During World War II, asbestos use increased even more, as the product was inexpensive and multi-purpose.  Construction and shipbuilding accounted for more than half of all asbestos use.  Shipbuilders, in particular, used asbestos often to insulate ships, reduce flammability, and stabilize objects exposed to saltwater.  Shipbuilders were exposed to the fibers in products, and via airborne particles.  By the 1930’s, tens of thousands of shipbuilders, sailors, and dock workers had been exposed to the hazardous material, leaving little surprise that asbestos claims would follow years later.

The rise in injury and illness related to asbestos-containing products eventually led to the material being phased out by the 1980’s.  Sadly, millions of people had already been exposed to the potential carcinogen, and thousands had reported illness.  Even today, asbestos is still found in many homes, products, ships, and manufactured goods.  This is why asbestos claims continue to be filed each year by the thousands.

What are the Dangers of Asbestos?

We often hear that asbestos is dangerous, or that there are many asbestos claims related to illnesses or injury.  Sadly, most people don’t really know what the dangers are.  The most common health conditions associated with asbestos exposure include:

  • Mesothelioma – Mesothelioma is a rare form of cancer that is only known to be caused by asbestos exposure. When asbestos becomes airborne, the particles can be inhaled into the lungs, and may move on to the esophagus or stomach.  These particles settle in body tissue and linings, causing irritation and scar tissue to form.  Asbestos may also cause tissue cells to mutate into mesothelioma cells, which grow and divide quickly, taking over healthy tissue with cancerous clumps.
  • Asbestosis – Asbestosis is a chronic inflammation of the lungs caused by scar tissue development. Asbestosis causes cough, wheezing, and chest pain.  It often advances to mesothelioma.
  • Pleural Effusion – Pleural effusion occurs when fluid accumulates in the area surrounding the lungs. This limits breathing and can cause discomfort.
  • Pleural Plaque – When particles settle and cause buildup of collagen on the membrane surrounding the lungs, it is called pleural plaque.
  • Pneumothorax – When free air collects in the chest cavity, it is called a pneumothorax. This condition often leads to lung collapse, and can be deadly.

Most of these conditions are diagnosed in older individuals who worked directly with products containing asbestos years earlier.  Mesothelioma is by far the most common health hazard related to asbestos exposure.  It is also the most dangerous.

asbestos claims

Here are some alarming facts about mesothelioma:

  • In most cases, symptoms of mesothelioma do not appear until 10-50 years after initial exposure.
  • Around 3,000 cases of mesothelioma are diagnosed every year.
  • The prognosis for someone diagnosed with mesothelioma is 6-12 months.
  • Only 33 percent of mesothelioma patients live longer than one year after diagnosis.
  • The prognosis for mesothelioma is poor. Conventional treatments often are unsuccessful.
  • Since 1929, almost one million asbestos claims have been filed, including the more than 121,000 claims included in MDL 875.
  • Most asbestos claims and mesothelioma lawsuits are filed against companies that knew asbestos was dangerous, but failed to inform employees that there was a risk. These defendants commonly include:
    • Shipbuilders
    • Shipowners
    • Mining companies
    • Construction companies

As these facts show, asbestos claims commonly publicized on television are only the tip of the proverbial iceberg.  Millions of lives have been impacted by the decision of companies to use a product that has been known to be hazardous for decades, if not centuries.

Learn More about Asbestos Claims and Your Rights

If you worked as a shipbuilder, sailor, or dock worker and have developed an illness due to exposure to asbestos, you may be one of thousands of people entitled to compensation.  Even decades later, you have the right to speak up and protect your legal rights.

There is no excuse for companies acting negligently by using products that are known to cause harm without warning employees.  If this happened to you, learn more about asbestos claims and whether you qualify to enter ongoing litigation.  Contact Maritime Injury Guide to speak with a maritime injury attorney about your legal rights.  Fill out our online contact form to get started.

 

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Cruise Passengers Injured in ‘Sudden Extreme Gust of Wind’

Maritime Injury Guide has discussed weather-related dangers for maritime workers, including hypothermia and changing weather conditions.  Now, with several cruise passengers injured after a sudden gust of wind caused the ship to list, we want to discuss how weather conditions could impact passengers and crew onboard cruise ships.

Planning to take a cruise this summer?  Consider how changing weather and other variables could impact your plans.

Several Cruise Passengers Injured when Ship Listed

The cruise ship Norwegian Escape was heading from New York to the Bahamas early in March 2019, with around 4,200 passengers and 1,700 crew members.  The ship was headed to a port of call in Port Canaveral, Florida when on March 3rd, a sudden and extreme gust of wind hit the ship, causing it to tilt to one side.  Cruise officials estimated the wind gust to be around 100 knots, or 115 miles per hour.

The 20-deck ship titled far enough for the life rafts on the low side to become submerged.  Passengers on the 10th and 12th floors reported their balconies touching the water.  Crew members and passengers reported objects throughout the ship sliding, falling, or breaking.  Ship equipment and personal belongings were among the property damaged.

Cruise Passenger Injuries Reported

Among the cruise passengers injured is a woman who fell out of her bed during the tilt, causing a back injury.  Another woman was injured when a lotto machine fell on top of her.  Officials have confirmed that eight passengers were transferred to local hospitals, and others were being treated by the ship’s medical staff.

Passengers who did not suffer physical injuries may be traumatized after this event as well.  Several passengers reported panic setting in as they watched the water come closer to their windows.  Others describe the sounds of children crying in fear as they held on to their beds and each other during the ordeal.

The ship was reportedly not damaged in the incident, and was fully operational when it reached Port Canaveral.  Inside the ship, however, was another story as tables, chairs, and equipment all slid to one side of the ship causing extensive damage.

Safety Procedures for Cruise Ships During Bad Weather

Cruise lines are aware that bad weather can have a devastating impact on their passengers, crew, and ships.  Sudden changes in weather conditions can increase the risk of accidents and injuries, and cruise lines have safety procedures to prevent this from happening.  Unfortunately, like the incident described above, some weather changes cannot be predicted in time to take precautions.

cruise passengers injured

Generally, if cruise staff becomes aware of a storm or changes in the weather that could impact passenger safety, certain precautions will be taken.  Safety procedures on cruise ships include:

  • Closing Open Decks – When wind or surf picks up, it can be dangerous to be out in the open. Port and starboard side decks are the most dangerous in high winds, and cruise staff will rope off these areas during bad weather.  Top decks may also be completely closed, or certain activities only, depending on the weather condition.
  • Closing Pools – When weather causes the ship to rock, pools will be covered with nets to prevent passengers from swimming. While some people may find the waves in the pool tempting, it is dangerous and can cause injuries due to the unpredictable rocking.
  • Preparing for Sickness – Bad weather often causes passengers to become “seasick”. Cruise staff are prepared, and when bad weather hits, they provide guests with seasick bags.
  • Stabilizers – Most modern cruise ships are equipped with stabilizers. Stabilizers emerge from the hull of the ship on  both sides.  They protrude out from the ship, and provide stabilization for the ship in waves or high winds.
  • Store and Hold – Cruise ships have many activities, shops, and restaurants. When bad weather is predicted, the captain may instruct shops and restaurants to lock down merchandise, table items, or displays that are breakable.  Stowing away glass items, such as liquor bottles, displays, and glasses reduces the risk of injury to passengers and crew.
  • Outfit Clinics – If bad weather is predicted, cruise officials may instruct ships to outfit their clinics with additional staff. Cruise passengers injured or ill as a result of bad weather can get treatment in the on-board clinics.

Taking safety precautions is incredibly important.  Cruise officials and staff have a responsibility to make sure that passengers are kept safe during emergencies, including bad weather conditions.  When safety procedures are not properly followed, the cruise line may have breached its duty of care to passengers.  Cruise passengers injured due to improperly secured ships should contact a maritime injury attorney to find out if they qualify for compensation.

How Changing Weather Impacts Cruise Passengers

After planning and paying for a cruise, the last thing you want is for your adventure to be ruined by bad weather.  Here are a few ways that changing weather can impact cruise passengers during their trip, and after.

Changing Plans

One of the biggest ways that changing weather impacts cruise passengers is by changing plans.  Wind, surf, and rain conditions can impact activities like boating, snorkeling, bicycle riding, or helicopter rides – all common at ports and destinations.

High or low water levels can impact inland or river boating trips.  Wind and surf can impact small vessels that transport passengers between the cruise ship and the port, which is common in the Bahamas, Caribbean, and parts of Europe.

Changing Itinerary

Cruise ships often navigate around storms or bad weather, which can change the itinerary.  Sometimes that means getting to a port sooner, and other times that means skipping a port altogether.  Depending on the dangers, the captain may decide to spend more time at sea, and cruise into port after the danger has passed.  If it looks like a storm is a continuing threat, a new destination is likely.

Cancellations

Cancellations are rare among cruise lines, but are not unheard of.  Cancelled cruises can be frustrating for passengers, and may cost them some or all of their reservation fees.  Most often, if you request to cancel, you will lose your reservation fees or a percentage of your total ticket price.  If the cruise line cancels, then you most likely will receive a full refund.

Cancelled plans may mean rescheduling time off from work, or cancelling summer vacation altogether.

Ultimately, bad weather can impact passengers in various ways.  Financial frustration, mental stress, and physical injuries are all risks.

Information for Cruise Passengers Injured by Bad Weather

According to cruise ship statistics, since 2005, more than 440 major cruise ship accidents have been reported.  These accidents resulted in 16 deaths between 2005 and 2011, and hundreds of injuries.  Accidents commonly leading to injuries include:

  • Falling overboard
  • Slip and fall accidents
  • Impact with objects (such as during tilting or listing)
  • Outbreaks of illness

Current statistics do not breakdown how many of these accidents were caused by bad weather. Nonetheless, it is safe to assume that at least some of them were weather-related.  No matter what the cause of your injury was, if you were injured while on a cruise ship, contact Maritime Injury Guide to speak with a maritime injury attorney.

Schedule a free consultation to find out if your injuries could have been prevented, and if you may be entitled to compensation.  Contact Maritime Injury Guide by calling 1-877-363-6148, or fill out our online contact form.

 

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Cruise Injury Results in Lawsuit against Royal Caribbean

Every year, millions of people board cruise ships in search of adventure and relaxation.  Most people never imagine that they could suffer a cruise injury that not only ruins their vacation, but also could impact their entire life.  That is certainly the case for a 26-year-old Washington man who is recovering from a cruise injury he suffered while enjoying one of the many on-board activities.

Cruise Injury Lawsuit Information

26-year-old Casey Holladay was planning to enjoy a weekend cruise to the Bahamas in February 2019, when the unthinkable happened.  He was a passenger aboard Royal Caribbean’s “Mariner of the Seas”, and was decided to try out the “Sky Pad” activity.  The Sky Pad is a bungee trampoline activity that is new to Royal Caribbean’s ships.  It includes a large trampoline and a dome, where the cables are attached.

In a video sent to ABC News, you can clearly see Holladay doing flips and enjoying the activity.  Just moments later, the video shows one strap snapping, then the other, and then Holladay disappears from view.  He plummeted more than 20 feet to the deck below, landing on the hard decking, rather than the trampoline.

The impact shattered his pubis, which is located inside the pelvic wall.  He also suffered from bruised ribs and a dislocated shoulder.  Holladay was placed in the ship’s medical facility while the ship returned to port in Miami.  He was then transferred to a Trauma Center, where he stayed for the next 10 days.

Holladay has now filed a lawsuit against Royal Caribbean alleging that the company failed to operate the Sky Pad activity safely.  The lawsuit notes that there was no safety net or padding on the deck below the attraction.

Holladay continues to battle limited mobility, and has had substantial surgery to repair his pelvic area.  He has numerous screws and plates installed, and is considered disabled.  The orthopedic injuries were significant enough that doctors warn he will likely require a lifetime of ongoing care, including possible hip replacements in the future.

The lawsuit is seeking $75,000 in compensatory damages and an unidentified amount in punitive damages.  Royal Caribbean has not commented on the lawsuit, but issued a statement that “We operate all our ships safely, professionally, and responsibly”.

Pelvic Injuries Have Life-Long Impact on Victims

For accident victims like Holladay, a cruise injury costs much more than the immediate physical pain.  Pelvic injuries often have a long-term, or life-long impact on the victim.  The pelvic bone serves as protection for internal organs like the bladder, bowels, and sexual organs.  It also protects major blood vessels and nerves leading to the legs.

The pelvis is comprised of three joints – the pubis, and two sacroiliac joints.  When these joints are disrupted by fractures or shatter injuries, the integrity of the entire pelvic area is compromised.  Surgery is required to stabilize the pelvis and ensure that all three joints are in their proper position.

cruise injury

Recovering from a Pelvic Injury

Most pelvic injuries require a series of treatments and ongoing recovery.  Patients will often find that they have limited mobility and cannot put weight on their legs for eight weeks or longer.  During this time, a wheelchair or crutches are required.  Once the initial injury is healed, patients often require physical therapy and rehabilitation.

Patients will work with therapists to improve strength and mobility, address weight-bearing issues, and initiate blood clot prevention strategies.  As long as treatment is initiated properly and the patient does not develop complications, pelvic injuries most often heal without incident.  The recovery process can take anywhere from three months or longer, depending on the severity of the injury.

Pelvic injuries can cause problems along the way, and patients should be careful to report any side effects or complications to their healthcare provider.  Serious pelvic injuries like the cruise injury suffered by Holladay, can lead to long-term complications and risks, such as:

  • Chronic pain
  • Sexual dysfunction
  • Bladder or bowel problems
  • Kidney problems
  • Damaged blood vessels
  • Increased risk of blood clots
  • Need for additional surgeries

Serious pelvic injuries can be life-threatening, and patients who have a pelvic injury should report any symptoms associated with these conditions as soon as possible.

Cruise Injury Statistics

Cruise injury statistics show that a wide array of accidents and incidents can cause injury to those onboard.  From 2005 to 2011, around 100 million people boarded cruise ships.  Since 2005, at least 448 major accidents have been reported, which resulted in:

  • 16 deaths
  • 300 reports of a passenger falling overboard
  • 66 ships ran aground
  • 72 reports of sexual assault

Any of these incidents could result in a cruise injury.  Further, in addition to accidents, cruise ship passengers also face the risk of illnesses, which are a common cause of cruise injury.  In 2010 and 2011, there were at least 14 gastrointestinal illness outbreaks on cruise ships.  That number rose to 16 outbreaks in 2012.

Norovirus is one of the leading causes of cruise ship illnesses.  It is estimated that more than 56,000 people are hospitalized each year in the U.S.  due to Norovirus.

Cruise Ship Accidents and Your Legal Rights

No matter how much we would like to believe that accidents and injuries won’t affect us on vacation, for thousands of people each year, that is exactly what happens.  Not all accidents on cruise ships are devastating or result in life-altering injuries, but even minor injuries can have a profound impact on those involved.

Some accidents are purely that, and cannot be avoided no matter how careful we are.  However, in the case of a cruise injury like what Mr.  Holladay suffered, the accident may have been preventable.  If the court determines that the cruise ship staff did not properly and safely operate and maintain the Sky Pad activity, then Royal Caribbean may be held liable for Mr.  Holladay’s injuries, expenses, and other financial losses.

If you have been injured while on a cruise ship, and you believe that your injury was the result of negligence, contact a maritime injury attorney to discuss your legal rights.  At Maritime Injury Guide, we can help you explore your situation and determine if you have a case.  Our injury consultations are always free.  Fill out our online form to get started.

 

 

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Cruise Ship Safety Statistics

Taking a cruise may seem like the adventure of a lifetime, but here are some cruise ship safety statistics and information that consumers should know before deciding to embark.  These statistics and information could be helpful for consumers who are concerned about cruise ship safety and want to ensure that their adventure doesn’t turn into a disaster.

Cruise Ship Safety Information

Cruise ship operation and safety is overseen by the International Maritime Organization (IMO), the United States Coast Guard, and the companies operating the ships.  Unfortunately, these organizations have not implemented a comprehensive, consistent database documenting incidents or accidents occurring at sea.  For consumers, that means there is no public database to review cruise ship safety or incidents.

While there are safety guidelines and regulations for cruise ship operators, for many years, there has been little consistent and systematic gathering of data to explore cruise ship safety and accidents.  Another problem with obtaining accurate safety statistics is the fact that cruise lines are essentially outsourced.  Most ships are incorporated and registered overseas, which means there is little oversight beyond the state under which the ship is operated.

While organizations and regulatory agencies may not operate a comprehensive database, there are other sources focused on gathering information and providing the public with much-needed information about safety.

If you are concerned about your safety, take the time to do some research before deciding to take a cruise trip.  If you want to learn more about how accidents at sea are managed, or what you should do if you have been injured while on a cruise, contact Maritime Injury Guide.  Our maritime injury attorneys can help ensure your legal rights are protected.

Cruise Ship Safety Statistics

Gathering research and reports from the U.S.  Department of Transportation (DOT), National Geographic, BBC, and cruisejunkie.com, here are some of the statistics that consumers should know before buying those cruise tickets:

  • According to the Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA), between 2005 and 2011, there were 100 million passengers on cruise ships.
  • Since 2005, there have been 448 major cruise ship accidents reported.
  • Between 2005 and 2011, 16 people died in cruise ship accidents.
  • Since 2000, around 300 people on cruise ships have fallen overboard. There were 17 overboard incidents in 2017 alone.
  • Between 1979 and 2013, 55 cruise vessels sank, with 15 of those occurring between 2010 and 2013.
  • From 1972 to 2011, 98 cruise ships ran aground. Between 2005 and 2013, 66 passenger ships reportedly ran aground.
  • In 2017 and the first quarter of 2018, there were around 100 serious crimes reported to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). The most common crime was sexual assault, of which there were 72 incidents reported over that 15-month period.

Not only are accidents like those above a concern, but so are illnesses, which can quickly spread and contaminate thousands of people.  Consider these statistics about illnesses on cruise ships:

  • Between 2010 and 2011, there were 14 outbreaks of gastrointestinal viruses on cruise ships.
  • In 2012, there were 16 gastrointestinal illness outbreaks.
  • In 2013, there were nine outbreaks.
  • Norovirus is considered the most likely cause of illness on cruise ships. Every year in the U.S., there are an estimated 19-21 million cases causing over 56,000 hospitalizations.

Cruise Ship Safety Concerns

Based on research and reports that are available, here are some of the most common cruise ship safety concerns:

  • Loss of power resulting in being adrift at sea
  • Evacuation due to fire, collision, sinking, or other incidents
  • Fire (there were around 79 fires on cruise ships between 1990 and 2011)
  • Plumbing issues (overflowing toilets, etc.)
  • Spread of viruses, such as norovirus.
  • Improper sanitation
  • Running aground
  • Sinking
  • Crime

These are some of the causes of cruise ship accidents that have made national headlines, such as:

  • Costa Concordia: In 2012, the Costa Concordia ship sank after running aground near Tuscany. The cruise ship – incredible in size and amenities – was carrying 4,200 people including passengers and crew.  After running aground, the ship began to sink, causing those onboard to flee.  The accident resulted in 32 deaths and numerous injuries, not to mention the mental and emotional trauma suffered by everyone involved.  The Costa Concordia is the largest cruise ship ever to wreck.
  • Triumph: In 2013, a fire in the Triumph’s engine room shut down power, sewage, and air conditioning systems throughout the ship. The fire left the 4,200 passengers essentially stranded in the Gulf of Mexico for days.  Passengers were forced to endure few food options, raw sewage seeping through the ship, and delays in rescue.
  • Pacific Dawn: In April 2018, a passenger on board the P&O Pacific Dawn fell overboard west of New Caledonia. The crew immediately initiated a “man overboard” protocol, and turned the ship around.  Nearby vessels responded and aided in the search for the woman, but she was never found.  Weather conditions were poor with strong winds and 3-4 meter swells.
  • Explorer of the Seas: In 2014, around 600 people became ill with a severe gastrointestinal illness. So many people were sick that the cruise returned to port early.
  • Emerald Princess: Around five percent of all passengers came down with what was dubbed a “gastrointestinal flu”. These individuals were quarantined, and were warned of “unnamed consequences” if they tried to leave their rooms.  Hardly the dream vacation.

Protect Your Rights on Cruise Ship Voyages

Whether you are an employee, crew member, or passenger of a cruise ship, you deserve a safe and healthy environment.  If you have been injured or become ill while on a cruise ship and you believe that negligence contributed to the harm you suffered, it is important to learn more about your options.  At Maritime Injury Guide, we can help you understand your legal rights as an employee, or as a passenger.  Fill out our online form to schedule a free injury consultation.

Sources:

  • https://www.nationalgeographic.com/travel/features/cruise-overboard-safety-travel-spd/
  • https://www.abc.net.au/news/2018-04-12/woman-overboard-vanuatu-pacific-dawn-cruise-ship-search-underway/9649162
  • https://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2014/01/140128-cruise-ship-royal-caribbean-nation-health-science-virus/
  • https://www.vanityfair.com/culture/2012/05/costa-concordia-sinking-scandal-italy
  • https://www.cruisecritic.com/articles.cfm?ID=240
  • https://theweek.com/articles/467569/7-reasons-never-ever-ever-vacation-cruise-ship
  • https://www.transportation.gov/mission/safety/cruise-line-incident-reports
  • http://www.bbc.com/travel/story/20120127-travelwise-what-is-the-safest-mode-of-travel
  • http://cruisejunkie.com/

Just How Dangerous are Oil Derricks for Workers?

The oil and gas industries are considered among the most dangerous professions.  And while there are many dangers involved in these industries, we want to focus this article on the question of “just how dangerous are oil derricks for workers?” What are the unique hazards of working on an oil derrick, and how can workers prepare or prevent injuries? Let’s take a closer look.

Just How Dangerous are Oil Derricks for Workers?

Year after year, the oil and gas industry continues to prove to be incredibly dangerous.  According to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, workers in the oil and gas industry are six times more likely to suffer a fatal injury than workers in “average” jobs.

In 2008, 120 workers were killed in these industries.  In 2014, 101 workers were killed.  Most years on record have similar data, with some significant incidents causing hundreds of injuries or deaths on their own, such as the Deepwater Horizon explosion.

The majority of fatalities on oil derricks in 2014 occurred in Texas, with a reported 44 percent of fatal injuries occurring here.  Other states reporting significant injuries and fatalities include Oklahoma and North Dakota.  The most common causes of death were attributed to:

  • Falling objects
  • Material handling – using a forklift, crane, or winch
  • Moving rigging up or down
  • Laying down or picking up tubulars

While these were the primary causes of death in 2014 accidents, there are many other dangers that come with working on an oil derrick.

Why are Oil Derricks so Dangerous?

In considering the question “how dangerous are oil derricks for workers” we need to look at the dangers themselves – not just the number of injuries or deaths.  Some of the most notable reasons why oil derricks are dangerous include the following:

Fire

Petroleum is a highly flammable substance, and combined with the various chemicals used for oil drilling, fire is a significant risk.  According to the U.S.  Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), around seven percent of all oil worker fatalities between 2003 and 2006 were attributed to fire.  Oil drilling often requires chemicals like hydrogen sulfide, which can build up pressure and cause explosions.  Various chemicals used for cleaning, lubricating parts, or operating machinery can also increase fire risk.

Falls

According to the CDC, another seven percent of worker fatalities between 2003 and 2006 were caused by falls from “higher to lower levels”.  In the same study, the CDC reported that 22 percent of worker fatalities could be contributed to falling objects, such as tools or equipment.

Equipment and Machinery

On oil derricks, there are many machines and a lot of equipment.  Drills, cranes, forklifts, and other machines are heavy, noisy, and dangerous if they are not properly maintained and inspected.  Between 2003 and 2006, six percent of oil worker deaths were caused by crush injuries.  Workers can easily become trapped, entangled, or in the path of moving machinery.  The noise of these machines can also post a unique danger in that workers cannot adequately communicate with one another.

Fatigue

Most workers on oil derricks work 12-hour shifts, which is difficult in the best of circumstances.  In the case of oil derricks, workers have to deal with a variety of unique circumstances that make a 12-hour shift particularly dangerous.  A few examples include:

  • Working with heavy equipment
  • Working around combustible materials
  • Exposure to weather conditions
  • Being isolated on offshore rigs

Transportation

Transportation to and from oil derricks or fields can also be dangerous for workers.  In fact, some reports suggest that transportation-related accidents may be the leading cause of death among oil and gas industry workers.  Workers who are fatigued are often required to drive long distances to wherever they may be staying.  After 7-14 days of 12-hour shifts, this drive can be particularly dangerous.

Another transportation concern is the fact that offshore workers often must rely on helicopters to get them to and from the oil derrick.  Helicopter malfunctions, improperly maintained helicopters, or flying in poor weather conditions can all contribute to crashes.

Reducing the Dangers of Oil Derricks for Workers

With such a broad range of dangers, is there any way to prevent or reduce the dangers of oil derricks for workers? There are some strategies that could prove useful in preventing injuries and deaths, which boil down to improved workplace safety policies and procedures.  Consider the following prevention strategies:

  • Improved Safety Policies – Companies can prevent accidents and injuries on their oil derricks by providing more oversight of the facilities, conducting tougher inspections, and making safety requirements more strict.
  • Training and Equipment – It is also important that companies adequately train their workers and provide them with proper safety equipment for the job. Going above and beyond the basic safety standards can improve the workplace environment and improve safety.
  • Implementation of Existing Regulations – It is not uncommon for oil and gas companies to fall under the umbrella of government regulations, but choose not to follow them as strictly as they should. According to a CDC report in 2016, in 86 percent of fall-related deaths reviewed, proper protection was not used, or was improperly used, or equipment failed.  These deaths might have been prevented had regulations been followed.

Protecting the Legal Rights of Oil and Gas Industry Workers

If you work in the oil and gas industry and have been injured on-the-job, you likely have many questions about how to get compensation for your injuries.  Workers commonly have questions about workers’ compensation, disability, lost wages, and personal injury laws and processes.

To find out more about the dangers of oil derricks for workers or how you can protect your rights, contact Maritime Injury Guide to speak with one of our maritime injury attorneys.  Fill out our online form and our staff will be in touch shortly to schedule your free consultation.

 

Sources:

  • https://work.chron.com/dangers-onshore-oil-rig-23643.html
  • https://www.cdc.gov/niosh/docs/2017-193/2017-193.pdf

Oil Rig Dangers: Work-Related Injuries and Safety