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Container stack collapse at sea can cause mental injuries

Seafarers face many risks on their vessels. One organization, Container Shipping Supporting Seafarers, is citing concerns over the physical and psychological injuries caused by container stack collapses. These accidents may have serious health, financial and maritime law consequences.

Serious accidents

Container stack collapses involve the movement of many containers when the stow collapses and containers land on deck or fall overboard. The loss of many large containers and the major change in ship distribution can also cause potential ship stability problems. Ships and crews face even greater risks when hazardous cargos leak during these events.

These accidents can also damage or destroy important shipboard safety and survival equipment. Fire extinguishing systems, lifeboats and life rafts could be inoperable or access to critical equipment may be impeded or blocked.

There were six major reported stow collapses on container vessels during the last three months. An average 1,382 containers were lost at sea each year between 2008 and 2019, according to the World Shipping Council.

Potential injuries

CSSS argues that working on a large vessel during a serious stow collapse can be extremely stressful. The movement and disruption of these containers and their contents along with the noise could be frightening and traumatic. This organization claims that these accidents may even cause post-traumatic stress disorder and similar problems.

Naturally, crewmembers face the risk of death and serious injury from collapsing containers and their contents which may have hazardous contents. Ship damage and the potential loss of safety equipment can cause further injuries.

Also, crews are usually required to stay onboard after a major stow collapse for the remainder of the voyage. The CSSS said that this is another safety issue and this policy needs reviewed. It is likely that seafarers may be emotionally or physically affected and need support after this occurs.

An attorney can help injured seafarers seek compensation. Lawyers can also protect legal rights in legal proceedings and settlement negotiations.