Shipyard accidents happen every year in the United States, all along the coast, but that does not just mean that employers and shipyard workers have to accept the risk. There are things they can do to reduce the chances of an injury. They can protect themselves.
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.
From asbestos exposure to the risk of slips and falls on wet or oily surfaces, these are just some ways that shipyard workers can be exposed to deadly illnesses or get injured. Something else that can put them at risk of getting hurt or sick is the use of spray paint in constructing or maintaining water vessels.
Those who work on water docks have more than just forklift crush injuries, heavy-lifting injuries and slip-and-fall injuries to worry about. They have to take precautions to minimize their risk of drowning after an electric shock as well.
Shipyard workers are often forced to work in tight, confined spaces. This brings with it a unique set of risks that they must be aware of.
Prior to being outlawed in the 1970's in the United States, many shipyard workers including plumbers, insulators, electricians, painters and welders were exposed to asbestos while maintaining or building civilian or military ships. It's only now that those workers are starting to show early symptoms of asbestosis and mesothelioma, aggressive forms of cancer that quickly rob them of their lives.
Work in a shipyard is similar in many ways to work on a construction site. A lot of the risks are the same, including the risk of injury from the use of heavy equipment.
The deck is one of a few places on a ship where shipyard workers are most likely to suffer injuries. As you may suspect, slips and falls are the most common type of injury that occurs on a ship's deck.
An accident at a shipyard in Portsmouth, Virginia has led to an assistant shift tech engineer to suffering serious injuries that left her in critical condition at a nearby hospital. The accident is being investigated, and though there is not too much information regarding the incident, we do know a couple of things. The ship the tech engineer was working on the USS San Francisco, which is a nuclear submarine that is being converted to a moored training ship. It has been at the Portsmouth shipyard since January of last year.
We have talked about the incredible dangers that are present at shipyards in the past. The sheer force of many of the heavy objects that can be found at a shipyard can amputate limbs, deal people serious, life-changing injuries, or even kill people. Shipyards are dangerous places, but they are still important and vital to maritime activities.