Maritime Law Overview
Seaman's Information Regarding Maritime Injury
While on the water, people find themselves in situations that could end in accident or injury.
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America's ports and waterways are not always naturally suited for the large types of vessels that they must accommodate. Often, the waterways must be dredged in order for the necessary vessels to be able to gain access. Dredging can be a complicated and dangerous endeavor for the workers whom the public count on to do this important kind of work.
What is Dredging?
There are two types of dredging. One type of dredging is to excavate or clean out water ways to make room for large vessels. The ground beneath the water is often filled with rocks, sediments, shellfish and sand. All of those materials can prevent a large vessel from entering the water way and interfere with necessary commerce. Therefore, machinery is brought in to remove these materials, deepen the water way and make it safe for all types of vessels.
The other type of dredging is to harvest shellfish. Shellfish live in the sediment underneath the water. Sharp and dangerous equipment is used to harvest those shellfish which are then sold throughout the United States.
Dredging Can Be Dangerous Work
It takes heavy and dangerous equipment to complete dredging work. Workers must be trained in how to operate the equipment safely. If the machinery is not operated safely it can result in the amputation, other injury or, fatality of the worker.
The work can be physically difficult and performed under difficult conditions. Often, dredging work does not stop for inclement weather. Long shifts are common for dredge workers and may result in fatigue that leads to accidents, injuries and death. At times, dredge workers may have to enter the water to help remove large pieces of debris of fix equipment and this can lead to additional injuries.
Further, pollutants and dangerous substances may be disturbed from the sediment when dredging work is done and this can result in both environmental problems and dangerous health conditions for dredge workers.
How are Workers Protected?
Workers on dredges are protected by federal maritime law. Specifically, they may be protected by the Jones Act. Most dredge workers are seamen for purposes of the Jones Act because they contribute to the mission of their vessel. Accordingly, if they get hurt due to their employer's negligence they may be able to recover damages in federal court.
Dredging work is important to the commerce of the United States. However, it is a dangerous and difficult industry that poses many risks to its workers.