occupational illness in maritime work

Occupational Illnesses Among Maritime Workers

Working aboard a vessel can give you the means to provide for your family, but it also comes with risks. In addition to a heightened risk of injuries, maritime workers also have a significantly higher risk of occupational illnesses. Unfortunately, many of these illnesses develop over a period of years, which means it can be hard to link your recent diagnosis to your decades of work aboard a vessel.

That’s why it’s crucial to have an experienced attorney in Mobile, Alabama on your side if are a maritime worker who suffered an illness or injury. Schedule a consultation with Fuquay Law Firm now by calling us at 251-219-0329.


Cancer in all of its forms is one of the most prominent causes of death internationally, and it is particularly prevalent among maritime workers. While cancer is caused by a wide range of factors, maritime workers may be at risk due to exposure to toxic chemicals, limited opportunities for fresh food and exercise, minimal sun exposure, inadequate sleep, and higher stress levels caused by their work. Common carcinogens that maritime workers come in contact with include cadmium, lead, and beryllium.

Cardiovascular Disease

As the number one cause of death for adults in the United States, heart disease is also a huge threat to maritime workers. If you look at the risk factors for heart disease, you’ll see that many of them are unavoidable for maritime workers. Risk factors include smoking, high-stress levels, limited exercise, and poor diet. When you work aboard a ship, stress is often just part of your day-to-day work environment. The long hours often leave little time for exercise, and long trips often require you to live on shelf-stable foods that don’t have the nutritional punch of fresh fruits and vegetables.

Hand-Arm Vibration Syndrome

The use of power tools can lead to the development of hand-arm vibration syndrome. It causes permanent changes in the sensations you feel in your fingers, often leaving victims with numbness, tingling, and weakness of the muscles.

Those with hand-arm may also notice their fingers randomly becoming white and numb for short periods of time. While this illness generally affects those who work with power tools for ten years or more, it can affect you at any time. This is especially true for maritime workers, who often work with heavy-duty tools and equipment that cause significant wear and tear on the body.

Epidemic Illnesses

As a maritime worker, you may travel to various domestic and international ports. This is the ideal setup for the transmission of epidemic and pandemic illnesses. Living in close quarters with other workers is the perfect arrangement for the widespread transmission of those illnesses.


High blood pressure is a relatively common health issue amongst Americans and left untreated and unmanaged, can lead to serious cardiovascular disease. Some of the main triggers of hypertension include high-stress levels, poor sleep, isolation, smoking, excessive alcohol usage, and minimal exercise. Again, many of these are linked to the working conditions experienced by maritime workers. While you can make some lifestyle changes to minimize your risk of hypertension, working aboard a ship means you may not be able to make significant changes to your diet or take up a daily yoga flow.


Arthritis is especially prevalent among those who put their bodies through significant wear and tear at work. Lifting heavy objects or using heavy-duty equipment every day can put a lot of stress on your joints, leading to arthritis. Many maritime workers also have to use the stairs multiple times per day, putting enormous stress on their knees. The limited workspace available on vessels can force employees to lift in unsafe conditions, increasing the likelihood of arthritis.

Turn to Fuquay Law Firm to Start Your Maritime Injury Claim

If you’ve been injured or developed an illness at work, you may be entitled to compensation. There are several laws in place that protect maritime workers and offer them maintenance and cure. However, you first have to prove that you meet the qualifications for an injury claim. We can help. Take the first step in your injury claim now by calling Fuquay Law Firm at 251-219-0329 or filling out our online contact form.

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