Are You At Risk for Injury in Your Workplace?
Safety rules under the Jones Act are overwhelmingly in favor of the worker; however, many maritime employees working offshore are not aware of just how comprehensive their rights are, or how many safety rules are in place to protect them in their daily operations. Because so many workers are under-, mis-, or even uninformed, maritime companies frequently take advantage of such workers and violate rules and regulations.
The Jones Act gives every worker the right to a “safe place to work” – a far-reaching rule but one of the most important for maritime employees. For instance, if an employee has been injured at work, and he or she thinks that the injury could have been prevented had the employer followed proper safety guidelines, a judge/jury can specifically determine if that worker was provided with a “safe place to work”.
Under the Jones Act, industry-specific rules and regulations also apply. Such regulations include the American Petroleum Institute standards regarding operating and rigging cranes and slings, as well as all Coast Guard safety rules including vessel safety and keeping the vessel safe from slip and trip hazards. OSHA standards also apply and are enforced under the Jones Act, and vessels are subject to inspections for adherence to OSHA safety requirements.
Additionally, it is the employer’s responsibility to assure that all employees receive the proper amount and type of training and supervision to perform their jobs well and safely. Often, a company will try to satisfy such requirements with “on-the-job” training; however, such training can be seriously lacking when it comes to the types of detail-oriented, complex duties assigned to maritime workers. What’s more, the most dangerous responsibilities are normally the most difficult to perform; unfortunately, such duties commonly fall to new employees, as more experienced and senior workers do not want to perform them and pass them off.
Under the Jones Act, every employer also must ensure that there are enough workers to perform each task. Often a company will insist on an insufficient number of workers performing a task because that’s the way it has always been done. But just because it’s always been done the same way, does not mean it is the safest way, nor does it ensure that proper procedures are followed to protect the workers, particularly in cases of jobs that are performed less frequently.
If you have been injured and want to talk to someone who deals exclusively with maritime law, contact or call us today at 504-680-4100 for your free consultation. We are here to answer all of your questions and to make sure you understand your legal rights as a maritime worker.