Ship breakers fill an essential role in the maritime industry, but they are often poorly compensated for the demanding work they do and the dangers they face every single day. Not only is ship-breaking physically exhausting work, but it is also incredibly dangerous. Despite this, many who work in this role are unable to seek compensation for their injuries.
Those who work in the United States or aboard an American vessel enjoy substantial protection under maritime injury laws. With the help of an experienced maritime injury attorney, you can fight for the compensation you deserve. Call Fuquay Law Firm at 251-473-4443 to set up a consultation with our team.
An Overview of Ship Breaking and Its Dangers
Ship breakers are responsible for dismantling large ships once they are taken out of service. Today’s ships are generally in service for about 25 to 30 years. At that point, the risks of corrosion, metal fatigue, and rust require that they be taken out of their fleet. However, you can’t just leave a rusting boat to decompose and contaminate the water or ground around it. Ship breakers break down the parts, saving what can be recycled and disposing of the rest. By recycling certain components, companies can bring in additional money.
Ship breaking is one of the most dangerous jobs in the maritime industry. While many jobs can be automated to limit risks to workers, ship breaking is not one of those jobs. Boats are made up of many different components, and these components have to be removed and broken down appropriately to avoid making other parts unusable or unfit for recycling.
Ship breakers remove batteries, wiring, machinery, equipment, portholes, and anything else that can be stripped from the boat’s shell. At that point, they start cutting down the boat into large pieces of steel.
Why is ship breaking so dangerous? To start, ship breakers work with dangerous equipment around rusting and corroded metal. If a piece becomes loose or dislodges from the boat, it can leave workers with jagged, infected cuts. Additionally, the process of breaking down a boat exposes workers to a wide range of chemicals.
When you consider the fact that most ship breakers work in developing countries with limited labor protections, it makes sense that this work is so dangerous. Workers in these countries often do not have access to the protective gear and labor laws that keep American workers safe.
The Risks Faced by Ship Breakers
Those who take on the important work of ship breaking are at risk of injury every single time they step onto a new job site. Some of the most common risks include:
- Chemical exposure. Being exposed to chemicals like asbestos and lead can cause serious health issues. When a ship breaker does this work day in and day out, the risks compound.
- When a worker is cut by a piece of steel, they are exposed to the variety of bacteria present on the boat.
- Falling steel pieces and machinery. As ship breakers take apart boats and their machinery, components may fall to the levels below them. Breakers working on those levels may be struck by those components.
- Explosions and fires. Chemical and electric fires are a serious risk for ship breakers.
- Slips and falls. Ship breakers working at great heights may be at risk of falling. This may lead to death or serious injury.
- Inclement weather. Ship-breaking work may occur in extremely hot weather, leading to heat stroke, fatigue, and dehydration.
Protection for Ship Breakers and Other Maritime Workers
Although ship breaking is generally done in countries with loose labor laws, there is some ship breaking work done in the United States. Those workers are under the protection of maritime law, which allows them to receive compensation for work-related injuries. On top of that, they also have greater access to safety equipment and protocols than ship breaks in other countries.
Pursue Your Injury Claim with Fuquay Law Firm
If you have been hurt while working in a maritime role, you could be entitled to compensation for your injuries. Ready to find out more? Call Fuquay Law Firm at 251-473-4443 or get in touch online to talk to our team about your claim.