Imagine being a maritime worker facing an offshore disaster only to find you were unable to don your Personal Flotation Device due to a manufacturer’s defect.
The United States Coast Guard recently issued a safety alert to remind ship owners and operators that maritime law requires Personal Flotation Devices (PFDs) and other personal safety equipment onboard vessels to be in serviceable condition in case of an emergency.
Inspections Reveal over 100 Defective PFDs
What prompted the alert?
While conducting inspections involving several different vessels, Coast Guard personnel discovered that a significant number (over 100!) of type 1 PFDs had defects that would have rendered them unwearable for users if needed in an emergency.
Usually, when a person has to put on a type 1 PFD, they have to grab both sides of the vest to pull the sides apart; the waist band strap moves freely through a slit opening, allowing the wearer to slip the PFD over their heads, pass the strap around the body, clip the end onto a securing D-ring, and pull to tighten the strap securely.
However, several inspections revealed that on some type 1 PFDs, the securing strap was secured at its bitter end and was also fused to the side of the PFD by what appeared to be a shell coating or color-matching material. This defect would make it impossible for users to separate the halves of the PFD enough to slip it over their heads.
In response to their findings, the United States Coast Guard released a Safety Alert entitled “A PFD that’s Unwearable Makes an Emergency Situation Unbearable!” to raise awareness of a potentially dangerous defect involving the Personal Flotation Devices used as emergency equipment on docks, ships and offshore platforms.
The Coast Guard strongly recommends that owners and operators inspect each and every PFD for this defect. If problematic life jackets are discovered, they are encouraged to report their findings to the Coast Guard Office of Design and Engineering Standards via email to: TypeApproval@uscg.mil.
The Coast Guard is deliberately not releasing the manufacturer’s name until additional details and the scope of the potential problem are fully known.
Are You a Seaman or Maritime Worker Who Has Been Injured Due to a Defective PFD?
Personal flotation devices are required when there is a chance of falling into water, such as when working near unguarded edges, boarding or leaving small boats, or working on floats. If you are a maritime worker who was injured as a result of a defective life vest or other safety device, you may be able to seek compensation for your injuries under maritime laws.
Lambert Zainey has been helping injured seaman and other maritime workers for over 40 years. Our Louisiana maritime attorneys have the experience and resources to tackle any case involving maritime and admiralty laws, including those involving injuries or deaths caused by defective safety equipment. Contact Lambert Zainey today to schedule a free consultation.