Working in the maritime industry requires specific training to do jobs correctly, efficiently, and, more importantly, safely. Inadequate training in maritime work directly leads to maritime accidents, injuries, and deaths. If you are injured due to insufficient training, a maritime lawyer can help you seek compensation.
Lack of Job Training Causes Maritime Accidents
Seamen require at least basic training on the operation and maintenance of the vessel on which they work and training for the particular jobs they do.
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For example, workers must be trained on a commercial fishing vessel to use the trawl winch or the plate freezer and processing equipment. Offshore oil workers need the training to use specialized drilling equipment.
Workers who are not trained to do their jobs well are more likely to make a mistake. A mistake in an office job may not be dangerous or life-threatening, but in the maritime industry, just one little mistake can cause a serious accident.
For example, not knowing where to stand on a fishing vessel could result in a worker getting caught in a net and hauled overboard.
Workers using heavy machinery aboard a ship or in the harbor might make a mistake that causes a cargo load to crash down onto workers below. When just one person is untrained, everyone is at risk.
Lack of Safety Training
In addition to specific training for job skills, workers in the maritime industry also need to be trained in safety procedures and to be able to use safety equipment.
A worker may understand how to use a conveyor belt, but if he doesn’t understand what steps to take when he sees someone get caught, that worker could suffer serious injuries.
Safety training helps workers act quickly when someone falls overboard, gets caught in machinery, gets tangled in fishing lines, falls from a walkway, or suffers another type of accident. Safety training can prevent accidents and make the consequences less severe.
Employers Are Responsible for Training
According to maritime law and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), workers are entitled to proper training, both for needed skills to do a job and for safety procedures and equipment.
OSHA states that employers in all industries, including maritime, must provide safety training to educate workers about job hazards.
They are required to keep a record of safety incidents and injuries. They must provide appropriate health screenings for workers and notify OSHA about any fatalities that occur on the job. Workers have a right to work in a position that is as safe as possible, meaning everyone receives adequate training.
Examples of Maritime Training Accidents
Whenever a maritime accident occurs, an investigation must be done to determine the cause. Sometimes bad weather causes an accident or an equipment malfunction, but too many times, the real reason is human error.
The error may be a miscommunication, improper use of equipment, failure to act with safety procedures to help someone in harm’s way or a lack of knowledge of general ship procedures.
Even with good training, human error can undoubtedly cause accidents, but most of the time, proper training can eliminate mistakes in judgment that lead to injuries.
These are just a few examples of accidents that resulted from inadequate training:
Explosions on a Barge
For example, in one case, poor training led to a serious fire that left people injured. In 2013, fires aboard a barge in Mobile, Alabama, caused explosions in two different barges. The start of the fire was blamed on flammable vapors coming from tanks near the engine room of the barge.
An investigation later found that employees on the barge had not been adequately trained in keeping the tanks clean, and this caused leaks that led to the fires. Three people were hurt in the incident, which might have been prevented with better training to clean and maintain tanks carrying dangerous and flammable materials correctly.
Navy Vessel Collision
Even the military is not immune from inadequate training and the resulting human error. In 2012 two Navy vessels collided with each other during a training exercise. The collision was blamed on human error, bad teamwork, and a commanding officer not following procedures.
The exercise may have been for training purposes, but it betrayed a lack of training for many of the people involved in the incident. Several errors that could have been prevented led to this collision, and all were lucky not to have been injured.
In 2013 a Royal Canadian Marine Search and Rescue incident also betrayed poor training, even amid a training exercise. A search-and-rescue exercise ended in disaster when an inflatable boat overturned in the water.
Two workers involved in the training exercise were trapped under the boat and drowned. Two survivors suffered hypothermia but recovered.
The investigation found that the equipment used during the training was inadequate for the task. Although the incident came from training, poor training led someone to make the wrong choice about equipment.
Maritime Worker’s Rights
Maritime workers have a right to proper training to do their jobs and to adequate safety training. When an employer does not provide these, the worker is at a greater risk for injury or death while on the job, and the employer may be found negligent in such incidents.
Workers in the maritime industry also have a right to compensation when they are injured at work. If you have been injured for any reason, you can get money for your medical and living expenses while you are off the job.
The Jones Act allows workers qualified as seamen to file claims for compensation where negligence has played even a small role in an accident.
If you can demonstrate that your employer was negligent in not providing adequate training and that this lack of training led to an accident, you may be eligible for even more compensation.
If you find yourself in this situation, let an experienced maritime lawyer guide you through a claims filing and the recovery of damages you need to get your life back together.