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Louisiana Maritime Law Blog

Are you prepared to navigate rough seas?

When you are working as a seaman aboard an ocean-going vessel, a lot can go wrong. Even seemingly minor injuries can worsen when you are miles away from hospitals and surgeons. That doesn't even address the damage that can come from rough seas that can toss even huge ships around like they were plastic boats in a child's bathtub.

Still, this is the life and career you have chosen. You need to do all that you can to make sure that your experiences working on the water are as safe as possible. Below are some tips to keep in mind.

3 Common hazards that await cruise ship workers

Whether you’re a crew member or an entertainer, a repair worker or food server, you put in the effort to make sure your passengers enjoy themselves and stay safe while on board a cruise ship. But while you may work hard to keep any threats to your passengers’ safety at bay, there are also hazards that can put you in danger that you should be aware of.


Seek legal representation for maritime accidents

If you are an ablebodied seaman or other maritme worker, if you get injured on the job, you could face months out of work. That's if you are able to return to work at all. The injuries that you suffer could render you unable to ever hold a job in this physically grueling industry again.

If the latter is the case, how will you pay your bills and support yourself and your family? You may be able to be retrained to work in another industry, but training programs aren't free and can last for a year or more. You're going to need some financial assistance to cushion the blow and ease you into a new field or industry.

When did the Jones Act go into effect?

The Jones Act has had a lasting impact on maritime activities in the United States. Perhaps most notably, it makes it so that shipping from one U.S. port to another cannot be done by foreign companies. The ships used must be operated, owned and built by people who are citizens of the United States or permanent residents within the country.

On top of that, the Jones Act helps those who get injured while working on these ships seek proper compensation. Someone who gets injured can potentially get this compensation from the "crew, captain, or ship owner" after the incident takes place.

Why do ships strike docks when coming into port?

For dockworkers, one of the most dangerous scenarios is when a ship comes into port in a slightly out-of-control fashion and strikes the dock itself. Depending on the size of the vessel, the damage could be catastrophic. Workers on the dock and the ship could suffer injuries.

This is essentially a never-event in the maritime industry. It should not happen. So, why does it?

What type of workers travel on cruise ships?

If you're interested in learning about cruise ship jobs -- and the risks that come with them -- you should know that these jobs can vary tremendously. A cruise ship is a floating city. The staff it takes to keep it running smoothly for the guests is enormous.

On other types of ships, like freighters and cargo ships, most of the crew is directly involved with the operation of the ship itself. On a cruise ship, you have plenty of workers who have nothing to do with the boat and are only there to connect with the guests. Examples include:

  • Entertainers, like musicians, dancers and comedians
  • Food services workers, like cooks, bakers, bartenders and waitstaff
  • Hospitality workers, such as maids and cleaning crews
  • Medical workers, such as doctors and emergency workers
  • Specialty staff members, like spa workers, massage therapists and salon operators
  • Safety workers, from security guards to lifeguards by the pool

3 Important steps to take after an at-sea injury

Whether you work on a fishing vessel or a cargo ship, your job involves lots of hands-on work. But when the worst happens and a mistake or accident leads to a serious injury for you, you may not know what to do or where to turn.

While standard workers’ compensation laws don’t cover seamen, the Jones Act does give maritime workers the right to recover compensation for their injuries. Because you are still eligible to recover damages, there are several important steps you should take in order to do so.

What types of ships and workers are covered by the Jones Act?

The Merchant Marine Act of 1920 is comprised of many different parts. One of the more remarkable ones is what's commonly known as the Jones Act. This piece of federal legislation places limits on the types of water vessels that can transport goods between two American ports. It also gives seamen certain rights to recover compensation for injuries that they suffer while working on a ship. You should know that not every water vessel is covered by the Jones Act though.

Water vessels must meet four different requirements to be covered by the Jones Act.

Keeping an eye on dangerous weather at sea

These days, weather forecasting is generally pretty good. It's far better than it was for previous generations of sailors and maritime workers. However, it is not perfect. Weather changes often happen quickly and unexpectedly at sea. These can be very dangerous and can even lead to fatal accidents.

The key is to know what to watch out for so that you can be as prepared as possible. It starts with checking the weather carefully along the entire intended route before ever leaving port. But, once you're on the water, you also need to:

  • Look to the west. This is where most severe weather changes originate.
  • Use a barometer. Even if you cannot see a storm coming, a quick pressure drop means it's on the way. This is the same method often used by mountaineers.
  • Watch the temps. As with the pressure changes listed above, temperature drops, especially when combined with notable changes in wind speed and direction, often happen right before a storm.
  • Keep an eye on cloud colors and directions. Vertical, dark clouds are often the most dangerous.
  • Never try to push forward when it's clear that there is too much danger. There's an old saying that you should take any port in a storm. It's true. Even if going to port means delaying the job or going far off of the intended course, safety has to come first.

The dangers of offshore oil drilling

We use oil to fuel cars and airplanes, heat our homes and supply energy to the power industry. But the workers who extract oil to energize our modern world engage in risky business. Even taking safety precautions, accidents on an offshore oil platform can still happen. And when they do, they often result in serious — and sometimes fatal — injuries.


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