Maritime workers engage in a wide range of dangerous work activities while at sea, and much of this work puts them in direct contact with potentially hazardous chemicals. Processing fish, underwater welding, improper ventilation, and tank cleaning are just some of the common causes of chemical exposure in the maritime industry. When a worker is injured as a result of exposure to these chemicals, they can seek compensation under maritime law.
If you’ve been injured because of your work in the maritime industry, don’t wait to pursue the compensation you’re owed. We’re here to help. Call Fuquay Law Firm at 251-473-4443 to schedule your consultation now.
Dangerous Chemicals Used in the Maritime Industry
Depending on the work you do in this industry, you may work with a variety of chemicals. Some of the most common offenders include:
- Asbestos: Asbestos is found in almost all homes, ships, and equipment built before the 1980s. This was before the dangers of asbestos were known. Now, when workers come into contact with the raw materials of these structures, they are at risk of dangerous asbestos exposure, which can lead to fatal illnesses.
- Benzene: Many crude oil vessels contain benzene, and those who are at the greatest risk of exposure are workers who do vessel maintenance and tank cleaning work. Ongoing exposure to benzene can damage the immune system and lead to several different types of cancer.
- Hydrogen sulfide: Hydrogen sulfide is created when natural materials break down over time. It is particularly common on fishing vessels that are not properly cleaned out after holding fish, as the decomposition of fish can quickly lead to the creation of hydrogen sulfide. The buildup is particularly toxic in cramped areas, where it can overwhelm workers. Excessive exposure to hydrogen sulfide can have an immediate effect on your health, leading to unconsciousness or even death.
- Vinyl chloride: This colorless gas is used in the construction of pipes, wire, and cable coatings. While it is often used in furniture and automobiles, in a maritime setting it is primarily found in adhesives. It is a carcinogen that can lead to reproductive damage, chemical burns, neurological concerns, skin damage, and damage to the lungs and nervous system.
- Flammable liquids
- Toxic metals
How These Chemicals Can Lead to Injury
The method of injury depends largely on which chemical you are exposed to. Some cause immediate damage on your first exposure, while others only cause noticeable injury with repeated exposure over a long period of time. This is why it’s so important for workers to have access to MSDS for every chemical they work with. It includes information on how different chemicals break down, the risks they create, and how employees can protect themselves after exposure.
Some of the injuries and illnesses reported among maritime workers after chemical exposure include:
- Several different types of cancer
- Respiratory issues
- Chemical burns
- Skin damage
- Blood vessel damage
- Irritation of the mucous membranes
- Internal bleeding
- Lowered immune response
Your Rights After an Injury
Many of the illnesses and injuries listed above are serious and have the potential to be life-changing. You may be entitled to compensation for the medical care you need, your lost wages, and other expenses related to your injuries.
Maritime employers are obligated to keep employees safe by limiting chemical exposure whenever possible, utilizing safety protocols that prevent accidents, and ensuring that employees have access to necessary personal protective equipment. If you’re injured as a result of their negligence, you may be entitled to additional compensation above and beyond basic maintenance and cure.
You can’t get the compensation you deserve if you do not report your injury and seek medical care. If you experience any difficulty getting the care you need or your employer refuses to pay out your benefits, you may need to take legal action against them.
Have You Suffered a Chemical Injury at Work? Call Fuquay Law Firm
The team at Fuquay Law Firm is committed to helping maritime workers get the benefits they deserve after a workplace injury. The sooner you reach out to us about your claim, the more time we have to fight for you. Give us a call at 251-473-4443 or contact us online to get started.