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Gangways and Walkway Injuries


Posted in Shipyard on June 10, 2018


All employers have a responsibility to create as safe a work environment as possible, but this is especially true for sea vessel owners, as maritime workers have a higher-than-average rate of injury. One area that is often overlooked when considering workplace safety for maritime workers is the gap between the ship and the dock. Whether loading or disembarking a vessel, maritime workers must be able to travel to and from the ship safely on a gangway or walkway. Even if a ship is only a few feet from the dock, making workers jump on or off is not acceptable, according to OSHA and Coast Guard regulations.

If you or a loved one has been injured on a gangway or walkway on the ship during your duties as a maritime worker, you may be entitled to compensation. You also likely have many questions about gangway injuries in general and how to go about seeking restitution.

The Gulf Coast maritime lawyers at Lapeze & Johns have provided the following overview about injuries that occur on gangways and walkways of ships. For a free case evaluation, contact us today at (713) 739-1010. Help is only a phone call away.

What are the most common injuries on gangways?

Most injuries that occur on gangways result from falling. Broken bones, head injuries, and even death can result from falling while crossing a walkway. Whether the maritime worker falls onto the gangway itself, onto the dock, onto the vessel, or down into the water, the resulting damage can be severe or even deadly.

Gangways are difficult to cross safely because they bridge a moving object (the sea vessel) to a stationary one (the dock), and they are often crossed in unstable conditions. Though walkways should ideally be fitted with non-skid surfaces, the proximity to water can make any gangway treacherous. According to the Mariner Safety Research Initiative, the breakdown of gangway injuries is as follows:

  •    46% of injuries are from being hit by a falling or moving object
  •    28% of injuries occur from slipping or falling
  •    19% of injuries result from sprains or strains
  •    7% of injuries are from other causes

This study also notes that while 62% of gangway-related injuries occur while using the gangway, 38% of the injuries happen during the installing and removing of the gangway.

What is the best way to prevent injury on walkways?

Safety on a walkway begins with proper assembly. Trained technicians are the only ones who should be positioning a gangway and removing it each time it is used. Vessel owners should also equip the gangway with safety features, such as handrails, lighting, safety nets, bulwark ladders, and lifebuoys. The platform and steps on a gangway should be kept clear of debris and liquids that could lead to hazardous or slippery surfaces. Another way to make gangways safer is to station someone at each end of the gangway to supervise the workers’ passage and assist those needing extra help.

What if I have already been injured on a gangway?

If you or a loved one has been injured on a gangway, you may be entitled to compensation for your injuries. Ship owners have an obligation under OSHA and Coast Guard regulations to ensure safe passage on and off their vessels. When they fail in this duty and you are injured as a result, they should be held responsible.

To make your claim as effective as possible, try to document all the effects of your accident. This includes your injuries and the cost associated with them, as well as lost wages and time missed at work. These costs add up, so you cannot afford to suffer alone.

Enlist the help of a maritime lawyer to help you find justice and compensation to help you on your road back to recovery.

If you have been injured in a maritime accident, trust in the Houston maritime lawyers at Lapeze & Johns to successfully handle your case. With a 98% success rate, we are more than capable of helping you obtain the justice and compensation you deserve.

With more than 20 years of experience in all aspects of maritime law, the Houston lawyers at Lapeze & Johns are eager and equipped to stand up for maritime workers. Being injured at work is always a difficult experience, and we seek to minimize the impact of this challenging time for all of our clients.

We know how to navigate the complex world of maritime law and help you receive the compensation you deserve if you or a loved one has been injured in a gangway-related accident. Call the Gulf Coast maritime lawyers Christopher Johns and Keith Lapeze today at (713) 739-1010 to schedule your free initial consultation.