Personal Protective Equipment Necessary to Avoid Maritime Injuries
Work at sea is among the most treacherous of jobs. Seamen and longshoremen need to have exceptional situational awareness, as well as a series of specialized skills. Yet, no amount of awareness or skill can provide complete protection from all workplace hazards. The best approach to prevent workplace hazards is to design hazards out of the job, as is the case for mandatory guarding of certain mechanical equipment. When it is not possible to prevent exposure to hazardous conditions, then employers need to provide workplace education and supply proper personal protective equipment (PPE) to their employees to prevent injury.
All ships have anticipated hazards that require use of PPE. To this end, ships are typically supplied with basic PPE onboard for their crew, which usually includes:
- Boiler suits: Coverall clothing that protects the body from contact with hazardous substances, such as hot oil and welding sparks.
- Helmet: Protective covering for the head with a strap to secure it in place. This differs from standard construction hard hats that do not have straps.
- Safety shoes: These are steel reinforced shoes that protect the toes and metatarsal bones from being crushed by heavy equipment or cargo.
- Earmuffs or plugs: Used to lessen exposure to high levels of occupational noise.
- Safety harness: A harness secured to a stationary object is used to prevent workers from falling overboard or off elevated equipment.
Beyond the basic PPE, there are a series of specialized tasks that require particular types of PPE to protect against specific hazards. The tasks that require specialized equipment include welding to perform structural repairs. Welders use equipment that produces heat, sparks, fumes, and ultraviolet (UV) light. PPE needed to protect them includes:
- Face shields to prevent UV light from damaging the eyes with a special tint.
- Leather gloves, aprons, and spats to serve as effective barriers against burns from sparks.
Other common tasks aboard ships involve using chemicals, such as toluene to degrease equipment and paint to protect surfaces. The relevant PPE will depend on the chemical and/or paint being used. PPE needed to protect these workers includes:
- Respirators: Prevent harmful dust and/or chemicals from damaging the lungs and exposing the worker to toxic levels in their blood. There are different types of cartridges to use depending on the source of exposure.
- Gloves: Prevent damage to skin and systemic exposure from contact with skin. There is no one glove that can protect against all chemicals. Choice of glove material is based on what chemical is being used.
Training is Important
PPE is only effective if it is readily available in appropriate sizes, is undamaged, and is properly chosen for the hazardous task at hand. A recent study of maritime workers found that the following efforts will go far in better protecting ship workers:
- Enhanced supply of proper, non-defective PPE
- Provided training on proper use of PPE
- Notification of common injuries and findings of risk assessments
- Posting warning signs where potential hazards exist
Cape May Maritime Accident Lawyers at Freedman & Lorry, P.C. Advocate for Maritime Worker Safety
If you or someone you know experienced a maritime workplace injury, an experienced Cape May maritime accident lawyer at Freedman & Lorry, P.C. can help. We will review your case and hold the negligent party accountable for your injuries. Call us at 888-999-1962 or submit an online form to schedule a free consultation today. Located in Philadelphia, Cherry Hill, New Jersey, and Pinehurst, North Carolina, we serve clients throughout Pennsylvania.