One of the most common work injuries in almost every industry is falling. Every year there are thousands of workers who end up with a broken bone or head trauma after tripping and landing badly. They can be attributed to reckless behavior, dangerous working conditions or neglectful employers. Maritime workers are in danger of falling constantly because they work outside and have to deal with slippery and wet surfaces.
Barges in particular have a unique structure to them that can make it easier for workers more likely to fall and be out of work for months or years. Despite getting better at decreasing fall hazards in the last couple of decades, we still have plenty of workers brutally injured or killed just because of one slip. Barge crew members and their respective families should be aware of the following fall hazards that often lead them to become victims.
The tugboats and loading decks do have guardrails to decrease the chances or workers falling down, but they aren’t tall enough to prevent all falls from happening. The barges themselves don’t really have tall railing if any railing at all to act as a support for workers who have to go back there, so it can be punishing if a worker accidentally slips near the edge.
Water isn’t the only fall hazard that employees need to worry about on the ship. There can be other dangerous substances covering the ground and ladders such as oil or grease. Additionally, workers should keep both the tugboat and barges organized to avoid an abundance of tripping hazards while walking. This can be done by lining up items such as hoses to the side, closing any deck holes, hatches or openings and installing a raised walkway to prevent workers from stepping on any wires or crucial ship parts.
Barge workers use a lot of different tools to keep their workplace running safely and sufficiently. However, a tool that starts acting up could result in a worker getting thrown overboard. One example is the high-pressure hoses used to clean the ship. If it suddenly changes from low pressure to high pressure instantaneously and without preparation, the knock back could be enough to send someone falling down.
OSHA also has advised deck barge workers to wear proper footwear, install guardrails on gangplanks and to be very careful when positioning the ladder.
Louisiana has one of the higher rates in barge injuries due to how many travel through our state to deliver cargo. No matter how new or old the worker is, they should be consistently reminding themselves of proper safety procedures to avoid going to the hospital. The less fortunate barge workers should review their legal options to determine their eligibility for workers’ compensation.