Accidents can happen anywhere at any time, and maritime workers know this better than many. Working on a tugboat can be particularly dangerous, as illustrated in a recent tugboat accident that highlights crush injury dangers. Read on to learn more about crush injury dangers in the maritime industry and what you can do to protect your rights.
Tugboat Accident Information
The previously mentioned tugboat accident occurred in Alaska aboard the Cross Point. According to police reports, a 20-year-old deckhand was working to repair a mooring line when the line became tangled underneath a buoy. The deckhand and another man climbed to the buoy, fully outfitted with Personal Floatation Devices (PFDs), and attempted to untangle the lines. Unfortunately, the tide was moving too rapidly, and the three nearby moored barges began to move toward one another.
The deckhand was pushed into the water, where he clung to one of the barge lines before being pulled under the surface by the tide. After being pulled under one barge, the deckhand resurfaced, but he was stuck between two barges, and they were moving toward one another. His coworkers tried to instruct and guide him to swim under the surface so he would avoid being trapped, but his PFD limited his movement, and he was unable to dive below the surface.
The result of the accident was the deckhand being crushed between the two barges, and his body being pulled downriver from the accident site. His body was later recovered by fellow crewmembers aboard a smaller vessel. The crew attempted CPR, but he did not survive his injuries. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and the U.S. Coast Guard are investigating the tugboat accident, and the deckhand’s body has been sent for autopsy.
Causes of Tugboat Accidents
Tugboats are used in harbors, on the ocean, and in rivers. The work they and their crews perform is crucial to the maritime industry. An unfortunate reality of working on a tugboat is that there are also many dangers. The most common reasons for tugboat accidents are:
- Capsizing: Because tugboats are small and often are exposed to harsh elements, close proximity to other vessels, and may experience operational problems, capsizing is a real concern. Dangerous for several reasons, capsizing can cause injuries or death due to crush injuries, exposure to the elements (hypothermia), or drowning.
- Hazards on board: Not only is the external environment a hazard for tugboat workers, but on-board hazards can also cause injuries or death. Slick, wet, or poorly maintained surfaces can lead to slip and fall injuries. Improperly maintained equipment and machinery can lead to crush injuries, broken bones, or cuts. Further, improper training can result in any of these, and other injuries.
- Mechanical breakdowns: Mechanical breakdowns, such as broken ladders, defective equipment, or power loss can lead to equipment injuries and a very dangerous work environment.
- Vessel collisions: As illustrated in the tugboat accident story above, vessel collisions are a very dangerous risk to maritime workers. Vessel collisions are one of the leading causes of crush injuries, and often are fatal.
Crush Injury Information
As noted above, crush injuries are common in maritime and tugboat accidents. Crush injuries occur when excessive pressure or force is placed against a body part, or when the body is squeezed between two objects. Crush injuries can cause a variety of injuries, ranging in severity from minor scrapes to fatal trauma. The most common injuries include:
- Fractures or breaks
- Nerve damage
- Smashed extremities
- Lacerations (wounds that are open)
- Compartment syndrome (pressure on a body part resulting in severe nerve, blood vessel, muscle, and tissue damage)
- Secondary infection
If you or a fellow crew member suffers a crush injury in a tugboat accident, it is important that you understand basic first aid options, and seek medical attention immediately. Basic first aid measures include:
- Applying pressure directly on a wound to stop or slow bleeding
- Cover the wound with wet cloth or bandages to protect the area from debris
- If possible, elevate the injured body part above heart-level
- If the injury appears to be to the neck, head, or spine, immobilize those areas and limit movement or exposure
- Get medical attention immediately
What to do After a Tugboat Accident
While some tugboat accidents are simply that–an accident–many others are caused by negligence on the part of a supervisor, vessel operator, owner, or other party. If you sustained crush injuries in a tugboat accident or other maritime accident, and you believe that the vessel was not properly maintained or supervised, safety procedures were not being followed, or there was a lack of proper training, you may have the right to pursue compensation for your injuries and financial losses.
To find out more about your rights, and to explore your legal options, please contact us today by filling out our online form. Maritime injury law can be complicated, and when you are injured the last thing you need to be worried about is your employment, finances, or the stability of your family’s future. Call our maritime lawyer to find out how we can help you get the benefits you deserve – 1-866-871-8422.