Offshore oil platforms are inherently dangerous work environments full of hazards that can cause serious or fatal injuries to offshore workers. Radiation hazards are among the most extreme dangers an offshore worker can face. Even limited exposure to radiation can cause severe injuries and illness, and extensive radiation exposure can even affect the children born to the exposed person.
As a Mobile maritime worker, it is essential that you protect your rights after a workplace injury. You could need extensive medical care, have to take time away from work, and still need to meet your financial obligations. The team of Chatom maritime injury lawyers at Fuquay Law Firm can help. Call us at 251-473-4443 to set up a consultation right away.
Sources of Radiation on Offshore Oil Platforms
There are numerous ways an offshore worker may be exposed to radiation in the course of their work. First, they may be unlucky enough to encounter naturally occurring radioactive materials. Gas and oil reservoirs often hold uranium, radium, and other radioactive materials. Offshore workers who extract materials from these reservoirs may be exposed while transporting them to the surface or handling them on land.
Industrial equipment can also be a source of radioactive material. This is particularly common among logging tools and gauges, radiography cameras, well-logging devices, and portable moisture gauges. Using this equipment, especially on an ongoing basis, can lead to radiation poisoning over time. Some of the processes conducted on or near oil platforms, such as oil refining, produce radioactive material.
Offshore workers should always know when there is a possibility of radiation exposure in their work. Additionally, they should be required to use the proper safety equipment to minimize or eliminate the risk of exposure.
How Radiation Exposure Can Affect Your Health
Radiation has a wide range of effects on your health—none of them positive. The World Health Organization indicates that radiation exposure damages tissues and organs. The higher the dose of radiation you’re exposed to, the more severe the effects can be. Whether you are exposed to a high dose of radiation all at once or you’re exposed to a small amount every single day for years, the health effects are profound.
Factors influencing the type of damage you experience include:
- The type of radiation
- Which tissues and organs are affected and how healthy they are
- Route and length of exposure
- The isotopes involved
- The individual’s age, gender, and health
Short-term, excess radiation exposure can cause acute radiation syndrome, radiation burns, nausea and vomiting, skin redness, and hair loss. Those exposed to enough radiation can die on the spot. For example, in the Chernobyl disaster, 30 people died immediately due to the nuclear blast or due to acute radiation syndrome in the months following exposure.
It’s important to note that as a maritime worker, you are at a much higher risk of exposure that can affect your health. The general population is unlikely to be exposed to radiation doses high enough to cause serious health effects, even in the case of a nuclear meltdown. Those who work firsthand with radiation are much more likely to suffer immediate health effects.
Long-term, radiation greatly increases the likelihood of developing several types of cancer. Consider the “radium girls,” women who worked on painting watch faces with luminous paint. Over 1,000 of these women later developed bone cancer and leukemia. The organs or tissues that absorb the radioactive material are more likely to be afflicted with cancer. You may also experience damage to your cardiovascular and respiratory systems due to long-term exposure.
Protecting Offshore Workers from Radiation
Employers and vessel owners have a duty to offshore workers to protect them from radiation exposure. This means providing and requiring the use of appropriate personal protective equipment, using engineering controls that minimize direct contact, and monitoring radiation levels to know when workers must be evacuated.
Injured at Work? Contact the Maritime Injury Attorneys at Fuquay Law Firm
If you were exposed to radiation while working offshore and you’ve developed negative health effects, you may be entitled to compensation. Let’s talk about your options and your next steps. Call Fuquay Law Firm at 251-473-4443 or reach out online to set up a consultation with our Mobile maritime injury lawyers.