Working aboard an Alaska Fish Processing vessel is a highly dangerous occupation. Long hours of work, rocking and rolling vessels, and dangerous machinery are a recipe for potential serious personal injuries. All fish processing equipment aboard Alaska Fish Processing vessels should be properly designed and guarded to minimize the risk of workers being injured. Under the Fishing Vessel Safety Act, the Coast Guard regulations require:
“Suitable hand covers, guards, or railing must be installed in way of machinery which can cause injury to personnel, such as gearing, chain or belt drives, and rotating shafting”. (C.F.R. Sec. 28.215 (b))
Machinery such as fish headers, skinners, and bait choppers must have safety guards in place and crewman must be trained in their proper use. Conveyor belts, pulleys, gears and chains must be guarded. Guards on these machines are sometimes intentionally removed or not installed to increase the rate of production. Safety of crewmen should always be a priority and safety guards and lock out tag out procedures should always be utilized.
The OHSA regulations further require that emergency stop buttons must be properly located in order to minimize injury to workers who are working around these dangerous machines. Failure to properly guard fish processing equipment may result in serious injury, amputations, and death of crewmen. Failure of a vessel owner to install proper safety guards required under the Fishing Vessel Safety Act can lead to claims for punitive damages and bar arguments of comparative fault.
The maritime injury lawyers at Johnson Beard & Trueb represent injured commercial fisherman, deckhands, and fish processors. They understand the requirements of the Fishing Vessel Safety Act and can analyze whether your injury was caused by the vessel owners’ failure to follow the Fishing Vessel Safety Act and OHSA.
The vessel owner owes every crewman aboard their vessel a safe place to work and a seaworthy vessel. If you have been injured because of the failure of the vessel owner to properly guard fish processing equipment you have the right to compensation for: pain and suffering, medical expenses, past and future lost wages, prosthetic devices, disfigurement, emotional trauma and traumatic stress.
Lanning Trueb and his partners at Johnson Beard & Trueb have represented crewman injured because equipment aboard fishing vessels was improperly maintained and guarded. They have recovered millions of dollars in compensation for their clients who have suffered amputation and crush injuries to their hands, arms, foot and legs. Their investigations in these cases involved employment of experts in the fields of occupational work place safety, machine design, naval architects, human factors and marine safety.
In cases involving the failure to properly guard machinery and equipment aboard fishing vessels, it is important for the injured crewman’s lawyer to begin an early investigation. The equipment involved in the incident should not be changed before being inspected by the injured crewman’s lawyers, safety experts and engineers. Photographs, videotapes, and measurements of the equipment and accident scene must be obtained.
Call Johnson Beard & Trueb for a free consultation about your rights under Federal maritime law, and the vessel owner’s duty to comply with the Fishing Vessel Safety Act and OHSA. Call today toll free at 1-888-277-0661 or 1-907-277-0161.