Sacramento, as the capital of California is an important city. It’s also an important port location. Once known as the Port of Sacramento, this inland cargo shipping port is now called the Port of West Sacramento. It holds a unique position being so far inland. The port is 79 nautical miles up a shipping channel from San Francisco in the heart of California’s rich agricultural interior.
Although it is not the largest port in the state, the Port of West Sacramento is still a busy and hazardous workplace. For workers the dangers can range from being crushed by heavy cargo to falling in the water to being exposed to toxic chemicals or even being injured in a fire or electrical accident. All ports have hazards, and this is why federal maritime law provides a way for longshoremen, seamen, and other workers to seek compensation for lost wages, medical bills, and other expenses. If you find yourself hurt on the job, seek the counsel of an experienced Sacramento maritime lawyer.
The Port of West Sacramento
The port was first created and built starting in 1946 as a part of the Rivers and Harbors Act passed that year. To build the port required a channel for ships to be able to come inland as far as Washington Lake where the harbor and port are situated. The Act allowed for the building of the Sacramento Deep Water Ship Channel. The channel was dug out to a depth of 30 feet and spans 43 miles from Suisun Bay to Washington Lake. It was a big undertaking and so the port didn’t open to shipping traffic until 1963.
Today the shipping operations at the port are run by SSA Marine. The port takes in and exports a lot of bulk, agricultural, breakbulk, and construction cargo, but no containers. The port is connected to three railways and several interstates. In recent years it has become part of a green initiative dedicated to moving cargo in ways that are more environmentally responsible. Dredging is a big business at the port as the channel has to be kept to a depth of 30 feet.
Dangers of Maritime Work
Although the Port of Sacramento is not the busiest port in the state and does not do container shipping, it is still a dangerous place to work. All workers in ports and on the ships that come into ports face risks every day on the job. From equipment injuries to falls into the water to truck accidents while transporting cargo, the hazards are numerous and the potential to get hurt are plentiful.
To get to the port ships have to be able to come up the long channel. To maintain the right depth for the channel, dredging has to be done regularly and plays a bigger role in the functioning of the port than at other ports on the coast. Dredging workers face unique hazards and greater risks of being injured on the job. The equipment used, for example, is large and powerful. If something goes wrong, such as the dredging crane failing in some way, a worker can easily get hurt or killed. Common dredging accidents include broken bones, head, neck, and back injuries, cuts, scrapes, bruises, and falls overboard, which can lead to hypothermia or drowning.
In the port itself, longshore workers also face hazards on a daily basis. Working with cargo is risky business. If the crane lifting cargo fails in some way, it could drop a part or cargo on a worker. This can easily lead to fatalities on the job. Ports also have trucks, tractors, and forklifts crossing the busy area and this can lead to collisions and accidents that cause injuries or deaths. Falls into the water are also always a concern in a port, as is exposure to toxic cargo or the possibility of a fire caused by flammable cargo.
Reasons that maritime accidents occur are numerous, but usually can be blamed on some type of negligence. If equipment isn’t maintained or repaired it can cause an accident. Workers who haven’t been trained properly for a job can cause accidents, as can miscommunication between workers. When cargo isn’t stored properly or secured correctly, it can fall on workers or lead to a chemical spill or fire.
Legal Rights and Resources in Sacramento
If you work on a ship or in the Port of West Sacramento or as a dredging boat worker, you face the possibility of getting caught in an accident every day on the job. If you are injured in an accident, you need money to pay for medical bills and to replace your lost income. Thankfully there are maritime laws to help you get that money, but your employer may not want to provide it. When this happens you may need to file a claim through one of the many maritime laws to get the money you are owed.
You have access to Sacramento maritime lawyers who can help you make those claims. Relying on an expert in maritime law is important because the laws can be confusing and any misstep can mean that you forfeit your right to compensation. You have to make sure you don’t miss deadlines and that you file the paperwork correctly. You may even have to face your employer’s lawyers in a trial. To ensure you get everything that you deserve and need to get well again, make sure you find a good maritime lawyer to guide and represent you.