Maritime cooks are vulnerable to injuries resulting from collisions, rough weather, repetitive stress, improperly stored cargo, and other incidents. Stewards and cooks may also face dangers from dissatisfied or inebriated passengers or malfunctioning galley equipment. You may be entitled to compensation if you work as a vessel cook or steward and have been injured on the job.
Common Maritime Cook and Steward Accidents
All people aboard a ship are vulnerable to certain types of accidents. A lack of training for any crew member could lead to an accident that injures anyone aboard the ship. Inadequate safety equipment or poorly maintained equipment used to do regular jobs aboard the ship can lead to accidents.
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If cargo aboard the ship isn’t stored correctly, a steward or cook could be exposed to dangerous chemicals or be injured by falling or shifting items.
A slippery or crowded deck could cause a worker to fall overboard, suffer hypothermia, or even drown. All workers, including cooks and stewards, could be harmed in these kinds of incidents.
More specific types of accidents and incidents also cause injuries to cooks and stewards:
- Equipment in the galley, if not in working order, could cause an injury to the cook or could even lead to a fire, burns, smoke inhalation, and even a need to abandon the ship in the worst case.
- Working with sharp knives is always risky, but a vessel cook injury is much more likely when the waters get rough.
- Electrical problems in the galley can lead to shocks or fires.
- Finally, unsanitary conditions in a galley can cause the cook to get sick.
A steward aboard a passenger ship is susceptible to many of the same injuries and accidents as other crew members. Stewards may work in the galley close to the cook and be at risk for similar accidents.
Stewards also work closely with passengers and may be vulnerable to attacks by angry or intoxicated guests aboard a ship.
Examples of Cook and Steward Accidents
There are, unfortunately, several examples of stewards and cooks on ships suffering injuries or dying in accidents:
Cook Survives Capsizing
In one dramatic incident that occurred with a ship off the coast of Nigeria, a cook was lucky to survive. The boat had capsized, and most of the crew drowned.
Rescue divers were surprised to find the cook still alive in the overturned ship, having found a pocket of air in the galley. As with anyone aboard a vessel, cooks are vulnerable to drowning incidents and may not be this lucky.
Cook Fatality on Columbia River
In Washington in 2012, another ship cook lost his life from falling overboard from a Columbia River sternwheeler. The boat was moored in Rainier, and he had not been wearing any type of life preserver. His body was found, and he had been wearing a bulky coat that probably contributed to his drowning.
In another incident in 2013, a steward on a ship registered in Hong Kong fell and died in an onboard accident. Carrying a stack of dishes up a flight of stairs, the steward lost balance when the ship rolled slightly. The fall was, unfortunately, fatal.
Common Cook and Steward Injuries
Cooks and stewards are vulnerable to various accidents while working on the job. Like other workers, they can fall victim to bad weather, a fall overboard, tripping and falling over cargo, or slipping on a wet deck.
Although these kinds of accidents are common to all maritime workers, some injuries are more common to stewards and cooks:
- Cuts from knives and other galley equipment
- Bruises, broken bones, fractures, or head injuries from slips, trip, and falls
- Back or neck injuries from lifting and repetitive stress
- Burns and electrical shocks caused by malfunctioning equipment
- Injuries or fatalities from falling overboard
Getting Help as an Injured Cook or Steward
If you work aboard a ship as a cook or steward, you are entitled to compensation if you are injured on the job. If your employer or employer’s insurer has refused the compensation you believe you deserve, you can make claims under federal maritime law to get that money for things like:
- Medical expenses
- Continuing care
- Lost wages
- Lost future earnings
- Pain and suffering
If you do get injured, you should first get medical care and ensure you get the record for these services. You also need to file an accident report with your supervisor with as much detail of the accident as possible.
To determine what compensation is owed you and under which laws, use the guidance of an experienced maritime lawyer. This professional can help you figure out what steps to take next and can represent you if your case goes to court.
If you die in a maritime incident, your dependent family members also have these rights. They can rely on an experienced attorney to guide them through making a claim and getting compensation.