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Louisiana Maritime Law Blog

Seafarers susceptible to mental illness on long treks

Not only do seafarers face physical struggles on the job, they encounter mental struggles as well. Anxiety and depression often emerge. Seafarers are confronted with working long hours leading to fatigue, exhaustion, boredom, burnout and isolation. Separation from families for lengthy periods, bullying from supervisors and harassment from peers also contribute. As if the daily grind of the job was not enough.

Take into consideration the predicaments of the estimated 200,000 seafarers currently stranded at sea because crew changes are not possible due to COVID-19 pandemic concerns. The situation has turned into a humanitarian crisis, affecting seafarers and their families around the world.

What are some common injury risks for oil platform workers?

Working on offshore oil rigs comes with benefits such as excellent pay and long breaks away from the job. Unfortunately, this type of work also comes with potentially serious injury risks when accidents occur aboard a rig. Working on offshore oil platforms means employees have a an above-average risk of suffering a nonfatal injury, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Understandably, the possibility of earning a lucrative income attracts many workers. However, it is important to your health and safety to learn about the possible injury risks inherent to the Louisiana oil industry.

There is romance in the fishing industry and dangers, too

Fishing season is year-round along the Gulf Coast of Louisiana, promising catches that get shipped around the world. Right now, commercial fishermen are in the midst of fish and crab season, searching for blue crab and doing their best to catch drum, snapper, grouper and speckled trout. With the recent closure of brown shrimp season, fishermen will have to wait until mid-August for the opening of white shrimp season.

Maybe there is romance in the fishing industry due to the adventure and the tasty catches, but remember that commercial fishermen have experienced difficult times during the COVID-19 pandemic. And they work in one of the most dangerous industries, where work-related injuries are common and death a possibility.

What is one of the major risks of diving?

As a commercial diver, one of the hazards that you face is hypothermia. It's a condition that can take you by surprise and quickly put your life in danger.

You wear a wetsuit and diving gear, but any kind of rip or defect could end up leaving you colder than you expected. Thermal challenges are already common, and even experienced divers can have trouble regulating their body heat without excellent equipment.

COVID-19 leads to many world seafarers being stranded at sea

Another side effect of the global COVID-19 pandemic has been the estimated 200,000 seafarers stranded at sea. Many of these workers have been aboard ships for more than a year as shipping companies are unable to bring in replacement crews. Without a break, fatigue and mental illness surface among workers, leading to major concerns about safety.

When the pandemic hit, a number of seafarers extended their contracts in order to maintain the flow of global goods such as food, medicine and fuel. Roughly 80% of the world’s traded goods arrive by ships. However, those extra months have taken their toll on seafarers, many of whom want to go home.

Heat and cold can be stressful: Stay safe on your barge

There are dozens of ways that a person could get hurt on a barge, but some that the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has been focusing on include heat stress, heat stroke, dehydration and heat cramps.

Why focus on these environment-related injuries? Barge work can be intensive. Barge cleaning workers, in particular, are often asked to work in dangerous workplaces where there are risks like being exposed to the sun or heat for long periods of time.

Is the Jones Act still necessary in America?

Some people question why the Jones Act is still necessary over 100 years after its conception. The president at the time, President Woodrow Wilson, created the law that evolved into what's today known as the Jones Act. It has been integral in the U.S. shipping industry, especially as our country recovered following World War I.

Today, it's still doing its part to protect American industry. The Act requires goods moving between two U.S. points be carried on American vessels. Those vessels need to have been created by Americans and have to be owned by Americans. On top of that, the crew must be American.

Watch out for falls when you use gangways

It's essential that your team is up to date on the latest safety techniques and requirements in order to keep you and others safe while you're working. Unsafe practices can lead to gangway accidents on ships, which could leave you with lasting injuries or disabilities.

There are many people who have suffered from serious injuries as a result of falling from gangways. Sometimes, these gangways are in poor condition or are badly rigged. Other times, the crew is not trained well, and dangerous working practices cause problems.

The many types of injuries faced by deckhands on fishing boats

Deckhands are essential crew members on commercial fishing boats. Rarely are they taken for granted, but, often, they may not get the credit and recognition they deserve. Deckhands have so many responsibilities in this extremely physical job. Those duties may include from operating the fishing nets and lines, hauling aboard the day’s catch of fish and shrimp and cleaning them to lifting heavy objects, using ropes and knots and assisting in emergencies.

There are plenty of dangers, too, and the hours grueling. The weather may turn harsh while on the gulf, and falling overboard and drowning is a possibility. If the boat breaks down, the crew is responsible for repairing it because no one else is around. And you are susceptible to serious and life-changing injuries.

More offshore workers dying as safety measures loosened

The results seem to be in, and they do not look good for the safety of offshore oil and gas workers. After reviewing federal records, a Washington-based liberal think tank noted that the federal government's loosening of safety restrictions on offshore oil and gas operations has led to an increased number of worker deaths and decreases in inspections.

The Center for American Progress reviewed the statistics of the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE) - the federal agency that regulates offshore drilling - and found a few alarming details. Since the BSEE has yet to release its 2019 statistics regarding offshore incidents, the Center for American Progress delved into the records.

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