their belts — and this inexperience is
one reason deckhands can be involved in
some unpleasant incidents.
Traditionally, deckhands are responsible for general maintenance, including
the hull, decks and mooring as well as for
handling cargo and more. With such responsibilities on seas that often reach five
or six feet or higher, working on the deck
in any fashion can be dangerous.
Aside from slipping on the deck, falling overboard in rough water or off of an
icy deck, deckhands also run the danger
or losing fingers or limbs between cargo
loads, or getting caught between the vessel and the dock.
While adjusters don’t see as many fatalities related to deckhand claims, they
do see myriad injuries. To mitigate these
risks, deckhands are encouraged to review
safety guidelines. These guidelines suggest
wearing steel toe shoes, never walking or
standing under a cargo load, using tag
lines to guide equipment, and being alert
for pinch points, among other things.
Organizations like the American Waterways Operators offer safety guidelines
for deckhands and other crew members.
In fact, in partnership with the U.S. Coast
Guard since 1995, AWO offers analysis
and recommendations aimed at improving crew safety and reducing injuries and
Dangerous Job #3:
Oil Rig Workers
It’s no surprise that those who work on
oil rigs have dangerous jobs. One of the
riskiest aspects is one most people have
probably never considered — the offshore personnel basket transfer.
To move workers from a vessel to an
oil rig platform, oil rigs commonly use
an offshore personnel basket. Essentially,
oil rig employees climb onto a basketlike structure roughly four-feet-wide that
is hooked to a frame. The basket is typically flat and circular at the bottom with
netting in the middle. The workers stand
on a floatation ring around the netting
without harnesses or ropes, and hold on
while they are hoisted 60 to 80 feet into
the air over choppy seas from their vessel
to the rig platform or vice versa.
According to Domingue, there have
been cases where the basket is quickly
jolted back to the deck due to a large
swell or wave, causing workers to fall off.
Spinal injuries or death can result from
a fall to the deck or to the water. Disembarking from the basket is also dangerous as the rider must step off the basket
and onto the vessel or rig without slipping or falling.
Organizations like the International
Marine Contractors Association offer
guidelines and safety tips for personnel
basket transfers that examine risk levels, training, environmental conditions
and equipment. Among other things, the
guidelines recommend transferees wear
safety helmets, boots, and life jackets
with lights and whistles. Some individuals might be assessed for extreme exhaustion before boarding a transfer basket.
Righting the ship
With so many dangerous jobs in the ma-
rine industry, much is being done to keep
divers, deckhands, oil rig workers and
others as safe as possible. Aside from the
guidelines offered by the various trade as-
sociations and organizations listed here,
risk managers, carriers and adjusters are
doing more to understand the dangers in
an effort to mitigate them.
The first line of defense for risk management in the marine industry is hiring
practices. For dangerous jobs like these,
employers should hire the most experienced personnel available. They should
also make sure their safety procedures
are not only up-to-date, but that employees are familiar with them and drilled
Employing a safety officer is also a
smart idea for vessel and oil rig operators; someone who regularly assesses
risk. Excellent training opportunities
including simulator experiences are also
invaluable. Companies like oil and gas
supplier Baker Hughes offer training
courses, online and classroom, including
simulations where appropriate.
Marine jobs are fascinating and critical to the nation’s economy. While it may
not be a revenue generator, safety must
be a top priority for those who work in
the marine industry to keep the employees who perform these dangerous tasks
as safe as possible.
Damon Vaughan is senior vice president
of Tidal Marine.
While adjusters don’t see
as many fatalities related
to deckhand claims, they
do see myriad injuries.
To mitigate these risks,
deckhands are encouraged
to review safety guidelines.