Risks to unsafe handling of power tools in shipyard employment

On Behalf of | Dec 22, 2023 | Offshore accidents

In the maritime industry, portable and handheld power tools such as grinders, cutters and other machines are essential. They help shipyard workers perform complex tasks more efficiently. However, without proper maintenance and training in their use, these tools can pose severe risks to workers.

Identifying and preventing hazards

Working in shipyards often involves the use of heavy machinery, which workers learn to operate with caution. But the necessary use of power tools also presents a risk. So, employers need to identify potential hazards related to using these tools and implement appropriate safety measures. This is especially critical when workers use tools with notably abrasive wheels, which can pose significant risks if misused or poorly maintained.

The risks that come with their use include:

  • High levels of sound produced by power tools, potentially resulting in hearing damage or loss
  • Dust that can cause respiratory problems
  • Flying projectiles that send small particles or debris flying to the eyes, causing injuries
  • Contact with objects that often have sharp edges or points that can cause cuts or puncture wounds
  • Fire from heat generation and sparks that could start a fire, especially in environments with flammable materials

Despite safety measures, accidents can still occur. In fact, approximately 200 incidents involving handheld power tools happen in the maritime industry each year, highlighting the consequences when safety measures are insufficient.

Mitigating risks of injuries or accidents

To lower risks from power tool use, employers need to train workers to handle these tools properly. For instance, employers should ensure workers understand the importance of maintaining and using the right tools for a certain task. Plus, they should be trained to inspect tools for damage before use. Training should cover how to use tools as directed by manufacturers and how to use protective gear like gloves and safety glasses. Both employers and workers must work together to keep conditions safe and handle any hazards quickly.

Workers’ rights when tools cause injury

Workers have the right to a safe work environment, and if they experience injuries from hazardous conditions, they can submit claims under the Jones Act. This federal law empowers maritime workers to pursue recompense from their employers if they get hurt due to the employer’s negligence. However, whether there is a legal recourse available or not, it’s the employer’s responsibility to ensure the safety of their workers while on the job to help prevent injuries and promote a safer working environment.