One of the most common ways that maritime employees are injured on towboats and barges is due to slip and fall accidents. The moving vessels and the slick, slippery surfaces on the barges can make for treacherous situations, and some individuals are seriously injury or killed because of this. OSHA recommends that your employers and co-workers should keep walking and working surfaces clean, dry, and unobstructed to avoid trip, slip, and fall dangers.
OSHA also recommends that your employer and co-workers should always do the following:
• Clean up all spills immediately;
• Stack materials in stable piles; and
• Secure gear and equipment that are not being used.
Your employer and co-workers should also help avoid tripping and slipping hazards by painting any trip hazards a different color and having de-icing procedures in place for times when the frozen water could accumulate. Maritime supervisors should not allow workers to paint over non-skid protective deck compound and should repair all leaks in valves, hoses, and pipelines.
All maritime employers should also provide you and your co-workers with safety shoes or boots with slip-resistant soles and should encourage you and your co-workers to walk at a normal rate. It is also important that employers stress the danger of running on barges and towboats and discourage the practice of jumping from one barge to another.
Employers should discourage employees from the following:
• Climbing on stacked materials
• Stepping on hatch covers
• Walking on the unguarded edge of a barge
In some circumstances, a slip and fall can result in falling overboard. All employers need to reduce the risk of overboard incidents by conducting job hazard analysis and determining the incidents on the barge that could contribute to overboard accidents. Also, employees need to look for signs of employee fatigue or a lack of concentration and resolve these issues to make sure that an employee does not accidentally fall into the water.
Barges and tow boats are often equipped with heavy machinery. This can be dangerous for the employees who are constantly working around the large pieces of equipment. OSHA writes that many employees suffer injuries to their hands, feet, and limbs because of moving machinery. Sometimes employees are pinned under loads, or fall off of equipment and are injured.
OSHA suggests employers implement these follow safe practices on their vessels:
• Inspect all equipment before use
• Ensure that all employees are trained to property and safely use equipment
• Make sure emergency shut-off valves are easily accessible
• Install all needed rails so equipment won’t slide
• Keep all retaining puns installed and secured with locking devices
• Maintain all equipment properly
• Shut down all power sources before allowing or requiring mechanical repairs
By using the above strategies, employers will be able to protect employees from many of the prevalent dangers on the towboats and barges. Employees can be injured by hoists, cranes, derricks, and winches in addition to other equipment.
If you’ve been injured as a result of faulty safety practices, please contact a Jones Act attorney at the Dysart Law Firm, P.C. today.