Seamen Can Report Dangerous Maritime Vessels as Unseaworthy
Vessel owners are legally obligated to provide seamen with a ship that is fit to use. If they don’t, the vessel is considered unseaworthy.
You don’t have to wait until a serious accident occurs to report a vessel as unseaworthy. Your ship may be unseaworthy if it has:
- An untrained, unsupervised, or insufficient crew. A lack of sufficient crew members may render a ship unseaworthy. Similarly, if seamen are unqualified, unsupervised, or improperly trained, their lack of competence may also constitute an unseaworthy vessel.
- Inadequate safety gear or equipment. Ship owners have a duty to provide the crew with adequate, well-maintained safety equipment such as proper scaffolding, sturdy railings, and safety lines. Missing or outdated safety gear may be grounds for an unseaworthiness claim.
- Poor maintenance. The accumulation of seawater, oil, and other liquids can result in slippery decks and gangways. Inadequate maintenance of a vessel’s deck, equipment, engine, hull, or living quarters may cause serious accidents and devastating offshore injuries.
- Inadequate medical facilities. Vessel owners are obligated to provide medical treatment rooms stocked with adequate supplies and equipment. Similarly, the doctor aboard the ship must be capable of properly diagnosing and treating seamen’s illnesses and injuries. Failure to do so may render the vessel unseaworthy.
- Trip and fall hazards. Falls can be dangerous in any work environment, and particularly aboard a ship at sea. Ropes, mooring anchors, and tools are all potential trip hazards, with unprotected floor openings and stairwells resulting in serious falls.
Reporting Safety Concerns
The U.S. Occupational Health and Safety Administration protects workers who report safety concerns from various forms of employer retaliation, including:
- Termination of employment.
- Harassment and intimidation.
- Reduction of work hours or pay.
If your maritime employer has retaliated against you for reporting an unsafe vessel, you need professional representation by an experienced attorney to protect your rights. To learn more, contact the law offices of Steve M. Lee, P.C., by using the form on this page.