Offshore work locations are rife with job hazards. Workers in maritime environments have to consider extreme weather, separation from loved ones and other risk factors when deciding if a job is the right option for them. They typically also need to accept a certain degree of risk related to their employment.
Sometimes, the decisions that individual workers and their employers make can exacerbate existing work hazards. For offshore employees ranging from professional fishermen to oil rig workers, personal safety devices could be the difference between a serious injury and a fatality on the job.
Personal flotation devices are key for offshore safety
A personal flotation device (PFD) like a life jacket can save someone’s life. People often think that can grab a PFD in an emergency, but that isn’t always an option.
Particularly when someone works in an offshore environment, they never know when they might suffer a blow to the head or other major injury that could put them in the water. Those who are unable to swim, those exposed to moving equipment and those who handle dangerous chemicals are among those likely to be at elevated risk for an incident that puts them in the water while working.
A PFD could save someone’s life, but many companies do not provide PFDs for workers. Worse, they may allow a job culture to thrive where employees mock those who use proper safety equipment. The refusal to provide PFDs or to require workers to consistently use them could be a form of employer negligence that leads to a tragic outcome.
When looking at recreational boating statistics from 2022, a shocking 85% of downing victims did not have a PFD on at the time they went into the water. The United States Coast Guard does not provide a breakdown of professional boating incidents, but it’s easy to extrapolate from available data that a lack of safety gear is often an issue.
Maritime injury claims can be more of a challenge
Workers who do their jobs in terrestrial locations benefit from knowing that workers’ compensation is always available if they get hurt. Offshore workers do not have that same type of protection. They may need to pursue a lawsuit against their employer in order to recoup lost wages and cover their medical expenses. Those who recognize the most significant safety risks in an offshore environment may have an easier time evaluating company practices for negligence that unnecessarily endangered workers.
Understanding what types of incidents injure workers and how companies can prevent them may benefit those hoping to prevent harm, as well as those who need to seek compensation after an incident related to their offshore employment.