Working in a shipyard often means doing what the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) terms “hot work.” This is anything that can create a spark or an open flame. A common example is the welding that is so important during structural work on a modern ship.

This type of work cannot be avoided, but it is critical to ensure that a fire does not break out on the ship. An accident like that can be devastating, not just in terms of massive property damage, but also when looking at the safety of the workers and crew members on the ship. Those trapped in a vessel that catches on fire could be seriously injured or killed due to smoke inhalation or direct contact with the flames.

In order to prevent this from happening, OSHA recommends that workers use a “fire watch” system. This is very simple: When one worker is on the job, another worker with a fire extinguisher stands nearby and watches the entire time. If there is a fire, it may be nearly impossible to control once it expands, but it can be put out quickly at the original source. The worker performing the fire watch can prevent a catastrophe by attacking the problem as soon as it occurs.

It’s also important for workers to be aware of potential hazards, which can include highly combustible materials, toxic fumes, heat transfer through the ship’s compartments and flammable equipment coverings.

When an accident takes place, workers onboard face severe risks. It is important for those who suffer injuries or the families of those who pass away to know what legal rights they have in the wake of such a tragedy.  Contact the Law Offices of John W. Merting, P.A. to find out what your and your family’s rights are before it is too late.