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Port and dock workers: Top challenging conditions

On Behalf of | Jul 31, 2022 | Personal Injury

Those who work at ports, unloading and loading ships have an important job. However, there are certain challenges faced by workers at New York seaports and those across the U.S. Workers often use heavy equipment and must get the job done, regardless of extreme weather conditions.

Often working through the night as well as during day times, workers meet the challenge of loading and unloading ships. Others may have involvement in the process, including harbor authorities, port operators, stevedoring firms, haulers (transport companies), ships’ masters, and crew. Workers may do hazardous jobs in close proximity to others. Some of the challenges that they face include the following:

Trips, slips and falls

Often minor in nature, these are the most common injuries at ports. However, broken bones may be the result. Causes could be winter weather and icy conditions or poorly stored ropes, cables, lashing gear and equipment. The hazard of tripping is always a concern. Lighting may not be adequate, especially around corners. Safety hazards need to be identified before they cause an issue.

Operations involving lifting

If the equipment isn’t up to industry standards, there is a safety risk. Falling loads may crush a worker. Ensuring knowledge of the use of gantry cranes, slewing cranes and forklift trucks may increase safety and help in preventing personal injury.

Chemical agents

OSHA maintains the workers at ports have exposure to diesel particulate matter. Included is soot, which, at first, can cause headaches and eye irritation. However, longer exposure may be the cause of an increase in one’s risk for cardiovascular disease (among others) and respiratory disorders.


Long hours, shift work or inadequate rest may result in a decline in alertness, causing slower reactions and movement. Workers who exhibit fatigue should not take part in cargo handling, as this could be a danger.

Confined spaces

A confined space is that which creates a condition where an accident could happen. Dangers exist from flammable, explosive and harmful materials. Gas fumes or vapors may also be present. Workers should avoid confined spaces if possible. Safety equipment and ventilation should be present.

Challenges from the work as well as weather may create hazardous conditions for dock and port workers. Worker safety is important when it comes to ships and seaports.