Staying safe on a ship’s deck requires careful planning. Not only must there be proper safety protocol on every vessel, the crew must undergo training to know how to handle unexpected situations. When there aren’t proper protocols in place or when they aren’t followed, deckhands and others on the deck can suffer serious injuries.
It is up to the Captain of each ship to ensure that their crew members are following safety procedures. There are several types of deck accidents that they need to think about when working on a ship.
Back injuries from improper lifting
Some deckhands have to lift heavy items when they are on the vessel. Lifting objects should be done with the legs and not with the back. This means stopping down to pick them up instead of bending over. Large or heavy objects should use a team lifting technique or a mechanical lifting device.
People who do have to lift heavy objects should be sure they have a clear path to their destination. Take small steps when you are walking and rest often when you need. If you have to change directions, try to do so slowly and by pivoting and not by twisting the body.
Ship decks can be very slippery, as can the catwalks. Deckhands should have slip-resistant shoes to minimize the risk of slipping on the deck. All walking surfaces should be clean and tidy. Any spills, especially of slick liquids like oil, should be cleaned up immediately. Everyone on the decks should remain keenly aware of their surroundings so they can try to spot hazards and address them before there is a safety incident. Areas that are likely to be slippery and those that might have other walkway hazards should be clearly marked.
Exposure to chemicals and electricity
Chemicals used on ships should all be covered in material safety data sheets that are readily available. Proper personal protective equipment must be available for all deckhands who will work with the chemicals. Since water is all around the ship, anyone working around electricity should be careful not to come into contact with the water. Equipment should be evaluated to ensure it is ready for service. Anything with a frayed wire or a broken protective case must be tagged out of service.
Heavy equipment and tool incidents
Heavy equipment like cranes are commonly used on decks. Other tools, such as welders, might also be present. Anyone operating these must be properly trained on how to use them. They must also remain vigilant about what’s going on around them to avoid striking or injuring a co-worker.
Deckhands who are injured while they work might have a claim under the Jones Act or other applicable laws. Learning a bit about this might help them to determine their next steps.