Back injuries are one of the most common on-the-job injuries in any occupation, and the maritime industry is no different. Maritime work tends to be more hazardous than most land-based occupations, so maritime workers are more likely to find themselves in situations where they are at risk of a back injury.
Common Causes of Maritime Back Injuries
Maritime back injuries can take place on the loading docks, a vessel at sea, or an offshore oil rig. Common causes of maritime back injuries include:
- Lifting too much weight
- Improperly lifting a heavy object, or twisting while holding a heavy object
- Worker fatigue
- Slipping and falling on a deck, dock, stairway, or from a ladder
- Being struck by a falling object
- Being struck by moving equipment, such as a winch or crane, or being hit by a forklift.
In addition, the wear and tear caused by the physically demanding work required in some maritime professions, such as loading and unloading heavy cargoes, can eventually lead to back injuries such as degeneration of the spinal disks. Other factors, such as age, fitness level, genetics, smoking, mental health, and weight gain can also result in back pain among maritime workers.
Reducing the Risks
Unfortunately, a number of maritime worker back injuries were caused by accidents that could have been prevented through:
- Proper safety training and equipment
- Properly maintained equipment
- Removing slip and trip hazards
- Properly loading and securing cargo
These are all responsibilities of maritime employers as part of their duty to protect workers.
However, there are also steps maritime workers can take on their own to reduce the risk of back injury, including:
- Following proper safety procedures
- Wearing the proper PPE
- Exercising regularly to keep the muscles strong and flexible
- Get adequate rest
- Safely lifting objects, lifting with the knees, keeping the back straight
- Avoid distractions
- When sitting for long periods of time, shift positions often and periodically take a walk to stretch your muscles and relieve tension
- Avoid lifting objects that are too heavy, or twisting the body while lifting
- Being careful around potentially dangerous equipment
Maritime back injuries can result in acute (temporary) and chronic (long lasting) pain. Depending on the severity of the injury, the worker may require medication, physical therapy, surgery or other methods to treat the symptoms.
Get the Compensation You Deserve For Your Maritime Injuries
Since maritime workers are often exposed to a wide range of potentially hazardous conditions in the exercise of their duties, it’s important to maintain a safe work environment to prevent injuries. When management and ship owners fail to do so, disaster can strike, and workers can come to harm.
If you’re a maritime worker who is unable to work due to a back injury or other medical condition caused by unsafe conditions on a dock, the unseaworthiness of a vessel, or improperly maintained equipment on an offshore oil rig, you may be entitled to compensation in addition to maintenance and care benefits. The Jones Act and other maritime laws provide maritime workers with the right to seek compensation for damages caused by the negligent acts of vessel’s owners or crew.
Contact the maritime back injury attorneys at the Lambert Firm to schedule a free, initial consultation to discuss your case and learn more about your rights under maritime law. We’re here to help you navigate the labyrinth of maritime law and avoid the snags that could sink your claim.
Our dedicated team of highly experienced maritime injury attorneys have been representing seamen, dock workers and offshore workers injured in maritime accidents since the 1970s. Don’t delay — strict statute of limitation laws apply in maritime accident injury cases. If you wait too long, the courts may refuse to hear your case.