Posted by : attorney stevelee

A Look at Maritime Safety and Injury Statistics

Mariners and offshore crew members subject themselves to a variety of hazards and potentially serious injuries on a daily basis. Anything from poor weather to a miscalculation in navigation can place a vessel—and those aboard her—at risk for severe accidents and irreparable harm.

Broken bones and dislocated joints, back, head, and neck injuries, cuts and lacerations—these are only a few of the many injuries that can put a mariner out of commission for several weeks, if not permanently. To protect mariners from these risks, the Jones Act makes it possible for those who’ve been injured on the high seas or local ports to obtain compensation for offshore injuries.

But is this enough?

Shedding Light on Maritime Risks

As a result of the dangers associated with maritime work, maritime safety has become difficult to ignore. In fact, the Centers for Disease Control began conducting a risk study in 2003 that has yielded some terrifying results in addition to shining a much-needed spotlight into the dark corners of maritime negligence. The compiled data shows the following alarming statistics:

  • The Gulf trap. Despite the numerous other ports around the country that deal with trade, all but one of the 128 nationally recorded fatalities (99.2%) occurred in the Gulf of Mexico. The majority of these accidents happened during operations that included oil and gas extraction, commercial transit (cargo transport), and fishing.
  • Oil and gas work. Employees of the oil and gas extraction industry account for 68% of recorded maritime fatalities. Despite a 63% decrease in the number of active offshore drilling rigs during 2003 to 2010, the number of annual offshore fatalities remained relatively the same. Therefore, since there were fewer rigs and workers, the overall mortality rate per rig increased significantly.
  • Offshore fatalities. The maritime transportation industry (cargo and passenger) has a fatality rate 11 times higher than the rate for all other U.S. workers. Over the course of a seven-year period (2003–2010), a total of 128 fatalities were reported to have occurred as a result of offshore oil and gas operations in the United States—an average of 16 deaths per year.
  • Maritime injuries. The majority of maritime deaths, at 51%, is related to transportation accidents such as transit collisions, crane malfunctions, and forklift errors. Falls account for more than a quarter of injuries (dangerous contact with objects and equipment as well as drowning risks of falling overboard), while 13% of injuries were caused by fires and explosions. Exposure to harmful substances (chemicals, toxic fumes, etc.) make up the remaining risks.

The publication of these statistics wasn’t meant to be just scary reflections of a dangerous industry. The publication was and is meant to help workers, vessel owners, and government agencies take maritime risks seriously and work toward improving safety.

The Law’s on Your Side

Three important maritime laws protect offshore workers in the event of an injurious accident—the Jones Act, the Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act, and the Death on the High Seas Act. These federal laws are specifically designed to help injured mariners and their families afford costs associated with immediate and ongoing medical care and recovery expenses, including:

  • Lost wages from missed time at work
  • Temporary or permanent disability
  • Pain or emotional suffering
  • Wrongful death

The More You Know, The Safer Your Future

Would you like to learn more about your maritime work risks and rights?

In the comment section provided on this page, please share your concerns and questions and we’ll do our best to help you plan for the future. You can also contact us directly at 713-921-4171 to schedule a no-obligation, FREE consultation. We’ll review your case and discuss your injury claim and recovery options. Don’t hesitate! Get your head above water before your medical bills drag you down.

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