In 2011, Meagan Golden was an aspiring sea captain working as a third mate on a tanker, the M/V Overseas Cascade. The 25-year-old's career was cut short, however, by a serious shoulder injury that led to several surgeries.
As a seaman who crosses international waters on a cargo vessel, you may leave port in New York or elsewhere in the U.S. with goods that require fumigation or other treatments with hazardous gases. According to the National Institutes of Health, many of the toxic substances that are used on these ships have caused injuries and death for crew members.
Cargo on ships may undergo conditions much different from those that may occur on a train or in a semitrailer in New York. Even calm seas may cause significant shifting if goods are not secured, and often, there is settling of bulk cargo that may lead to a serious imbalance. When storms arise, the situation may become much less stable. However, with certain cargoes, the motions caused by choppy seas could lead to a new threat: liquefaction.
While people on the roads in New York associate the dangers of fatigue with large truck drivers, this factor is actually a significant threat on the world’s oceans, as well. In fact, according to The Guardian, seaman fatigue on merchant ships could be a significant contributor to the hundreds of fatalities each year caused by human error.
Your general risk of a motor vehicle or workplace accident in New York may be taken for granted to the point that you do not spend much time thinking about whether you will be affected unless one has directly affected you or someone you know. At sea, the nature of the hazards may keep them at the forefront, and in some cases, your awareness of them could save your life.
While a typical commuter in New York might drive, take the subway or call for a ride-share driver, as a person who works at an offshore jobsite, your trip might necessarily be by boat. Just like the roads, the waters have lanes and routes that should be traveled, and a captain or crew member who is distracted or careless about following them may put you and your co-workers in danger. We at Tabak Mellusi & Shisha LLP have counseled many maritime workers who have suffered an injury as a result of an accident at sea.
As a New York seaman or construction worker on a vessel or structure owned by a petroleum company, you may be exposed to an increased risk for a burn injury. We at Tabak Mellusi & Shisha LLP understand that even mild burn injuries may cause severe pain and extensive treatment.
An employee in any occupation or facility who encounters a blaze may be in danger, but as seamen in New York probably know, the chance of injuries from a fire while on the ocean may be much greater. In addition to the possibility of being burned, there is a risk of drowning during the effort to escape. When working with highly flammable substances such as oil, the hazards climb even more.
Working at sea can be exciting, varied and financially rewarding. Any seagoing vessel, whether private or commercial, needs people with diverse skill sets and aptitudes for its crew. Each seaman plays their own role in keeping the ship functional and contributing to the goals of every voyage.