Higher-than-average rainfall has resulted in significant flooding along the Mississippi River in recent weeks. This has caused levees to break — putting residents, crops and marine life in peril. It has also resulted in shipments being delayed. That has caused prices at the store to soar. Maritime workers have been at an increased risk of getting hurt as they’ve attempted to navigate these waters.
A representative of the New Orleans-based Canal Barge Company notes that swelling of the Mississippi has impacted people’s lives and commerce unlike anything that he’s ever seen before. The barges that have been impacted by the shutdowns of Louisiana’s inland waterways include those that carry critical goods such as chemicals and foodstuffs. Billions of dollars worth of goods travel these waters every day.
The swelling water has also caused other problems. A representative with the Port of South Louisiana notes that the fast currents and high water are really dangerous. A single barge carries is as long as three football fields and carries the equivalent of what 1,000 tractor-trailers would. Anchors don’t work. and boats are harder to navigate in these situations. Workers are at an increased risk of getting hurt as they line up waiting to unload their ships.
The head of Crescent River Port Pilots notes that his pilots have continued to try to help guide vessels as safely as possible through these overflowing waterways. He notes that doing that work is hazardous and stressful.
He notes that mariners must put their skills to the test when navigating the waterways. He points out that this is particularly important since none of them have braking systems. If a crash were to occur, it would cause such environmental harm that the waterway would have to be shut down. It would likely injure or kill many workers as well.
There are many different laws on the books that protect maritime workers if they’re hurt doing their job. This includes The Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act, the theory of maintenance and cure, The Jones Act and the Death on High Seas Act.
All of these laws protect maritime workers who are employed in different capacities. You should reach out to an admiralty and maritime law attorney to learn more about each of these and what benefits they may afford you if you have been injured.