Located on the Atlantic coast of Florida, on the space coast, Port Canaveral is a busy port for the state and for the country. The port is home to commercial fishing vessels, cargo and container ships engaging in international trade, and a number of cruise ships from several different cruise lines. Only PortMiami is home to more cruise ships than Port Canaveral, making tourism the area’s number one industry. Although cruising is the number one industry, cargo shipping is big too, with construction materials and petroleum products as the number one and two imports to the port.
With so much going on at this large and busy port, it’s no wonder that there are thousands of people employed in the port itself and on the ships that come and go from it every day. As a worker in this industry you know how dangerous it can be. Whether you work as a seaman on the ships that come into Port Canaveral or you work in the port itself, you are at risk of all kinds of injuries and accidents on a daily basis. Luckily you have laws to back you up and ensure that you get compensation that will help you get on your feet and back to work.
Port Canaveral is a busy and crowded port with a growing container and cargo shipping hub for Central Florida. Millions of dollars of cargo comes into the port every year and is quickly sent out by train to other areas of the country. Tourism, though, is where the port really excels. The port is home to new and luxurious cruise terminals and provides access to a number of tourist destinations for those taking a day or two away from the ship. Millions of people take off on cruises each year that start or stop in Port Canaveral. Being so near Cape Canaveral, the port has also played a role in the space industry, being the point of entry for returning rocket boosters after nearby launches.
Because the port is so industrious and busy, it employs many maritime workers. In the port there are people to operate the cargo-moving equipment, including trucks and container cranes. There are stevedores, workers to maintain and repair ships, mechanics and electricians, and the people who work in the warehouses that store cargo. This is in addition to all the seamen who work aboard cargo and cruise ships coming into port every day.
The Dangers of Working in a Port
If you work in Port Canaveral, you work around many hazards. Unfortunately, ports are workplaces that see many accidents on a regular basis, many of which could and should have been prevented with proper precautions. First there is the cargo. Moving cargo, including huge containers, is dangerous. When equipment fails or an operator makes an error, that cargo can drop, swing, crush, and strike anyone nearby. Even the trucks and forklifts that carry cargo around the port have been known to injure people. Sometimes the cargo itself is risky. Flammable liquids can cause fires and exposure to toxic chemicals can lead to illness.
Then there are the falls, which can occur from high platforms, walkways, barges, ladders, warehouse roofs, and any number of other locations in the port. Falls may happen because of an equipment failure, lack of safety guard rails, a collision that jostles a walkway or ladder, or a slippery surface or surface strewn with trip hazards. Falls may occur onto a hard surface causing broken bones, head injuries or worse, or they may occur into water, which can lead to drowning.
The Dangerous Job of a Seaman
In addition to the longshoreman and other port workers, Port Canaveral relies on the seamen that come in on the ships. Workers on container ships face risks, including falling into the water, being hurt by equipment and machinery, tripping, slipping, and falling, being shifted around in rough waters, being struck by shifting cargo, and even drowning or being lost at sea when a ship capsizes or sinks.
On cruise ships, workers are exposed to many of the same risks, and may also be vulnerable to contagious illnesses, assaults, falls overboard, fires, and electrical shocks or burns from malfunctioning equipment and electrical systems. Cruise ship workers, furthermore, are responsible for helping passengers during emergency situations.
Examples of Port and Ship Accidents
For Port Canaveral, with its big cruise industry, cruise ship accidents are among the most common incidents that occur and cause injuries to workers. For example, during an incident that occurred in 2006, a cruise ship had just left the port when it started to roll. The rolling motion caused the passengers and crew to be thrown about the ship, as well as any objects that were not secured. It also caused the ship to take on water and flood on several decks. Two people were critically injured, 12 were seriously injured, and 70 had minor injuries. Bruising, and neck and back injuries were most common.
In 2013 a Carnival cruise ship that was heading back to its home terminal at Port Canaveral lost power with over 2,000 passengers on board. It was thought to have been triggered by an engine fire. Fortunately for everyone on the ship, power was quickly restored and they were not stranded out at sea. The situation could have been much worse if the fire had spread or if the ship had not been able to get power back quickly.
Accidents that occur in the port are all too common as well, as a tragic 2015 incident demonstrates. A longshoreman was working on a barge when he fell into the water and was caught in a propeller. He lost both of his legs in the incident, but a quick rescue team was able to save his life. The accident happened as the man was being transported to or from dredge work which is done regularly in the canal to keep it clear. How the man fell was not known, but was deemed accidental.
Legal Rights for Port Canaveral Workers
For both the workers on the ships that come into port and the longshoreman and other workers in the port itself, the reality of accidents and injuries is an everyday possibility. If you work in the maritime industry you could be the victim of an accident and get injured on the job. An injury may leave you permanently disabled or may prevent you from working for a period of time. You may even die in an on-the-job incident. If any of these things happen to you, there are laws to protect your right to compensation, even if your employer is denying you that money.
For seamen, the Jones Act is a great resource for getting money after an accident if negligence is involved, which it often is. For longshoreman, the Longshoremen and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act provides funds for accidents regardless of negligence. If you have been the victim of an accident, let a Port Canaveral maritime lawyer help you navigate the complex system of laws and help you fight for the money you deserve.