Situated along the Rhode Island Sound and Atlantic Ocean, Rhode Island is often referred to as the “Ocean State” because of the vast bodies of water that surround the state. This makes Rhode Island the perfect spot for an abundance of maritime activity, including being home to one of the only two deep-water ports in the New England area, the Port of Providence (ProvPort). ProvPort generates over $200 million of revenue alone. Of course, it takes a multitude of maritime workers to ensure that goods are shipped, vessels are repaired, and everything runs smoothly at the port. Yet, regardless of how lucrative the maritime industry is, there are numerous accidents and injuries that occur in Rhode Island. While some accidents are unpreventable, other accidents are the result of negligent employers and unseaworthy vessels.
Rhode Island’s ProvPort and Maritime Accidents
Located on the Providence River at the head of Narragansett Bay, Rhode Island’s ProvPort has been a hub of maritime activity since 1636. Currently, the port is operated by Waterson Terminal Services (WTS), which manages ProvPort and provides longshore workers to load, unload and transfer breakbulk, bulk, and project cargoes. ProvPort can berth and serve up to six vessels at once, and cargo can be shipped overland to the rest of the U.S. and Canada either by truck or rail.
Most of the activity done by WTS at ProvPort involves the transfer of bulk cargo. Stevedores and other longshore workers transfer cargo from ship to ship, ship to barge, or barge to barge. This type of work is arduous and dangerous, even with the use of ProvPort’s two floating cranes that can move 1,000 tons of cargo per hour. Maritime workers are often injured while working on these cargo transfers, especially if a crane is not well-maintained or if its operator is not following safety protocols.
Seamen and port workers in a bustling maritime facility can be injured or even killed in various types of on-the-job accidents. These range from slip, trip, and fall accidents on obstructed or slippery decks to disastrous ship fires and explosions caused by careless handling of flammable cargoes. In addition, some procedures intended to save seamen’s lives have the opposite effect. Many crew members have suffered fractures, near-drownings, and other life-threatening injuries as a result of lifeboat-drill accidents.
If You’ve Been Injured in Rhode Island
Rhode Island maritime workers have the right to maintenance and cure benefits should an accident happen while on the job. If the accident was caused by the negligence of another party, the Jones Act may cover additional damages for lost wages, pain, suffering, and more. In addition, longshore who are injured on the job or contract an occupational disease may be entitled to damages under the Longshore Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act (LHWCA). If you’ve been injured, it’s important to understand your legal rights and options before signing any paperwork, aside from an accident report. For more information on the rights and benefits you may be entitled to see, refer to our article Maritime Rights and Compensation.