The Risk of Longshoreman Injuries

A longshoreman is often confused with a stevedore, but they are actually different. A longshoreman is primarily a dockworker who loads and unloads cargo. The term “longshoreman” comes from the colonial times phrase “men along the shore” or “alongshoremen.” A stevedore supervises dockworkers, and may be an individual or a company. The term is derived from the Spanish “estibador” which means someone who stuffs. But the terms are used interchangeably, although when it comes to occupational hazards, they are called longshoreman injuries.

Aside from loading and unloading cargo, longshoremen also do ship repair, bridge building and other duties. Because of the multitude of tasks they perform and the hazards they face, they are paid a premium rate. An experienced, unionized longshoreman may be paid as much as $20 an hour. However, longshore work and related maritime industry occupations are considered by the Bureau of Labor Statistics to be among the most hazardous occupations in the US. An average of 350 workers in this industry suffers serious work-related injuries every year. The most common longshoreman injuries are accidents involving equipment and machines, drowning, and slips and falls.

Some of the common injuries occur because of unsafe work environments. Working close to the water means the work surface is slippery. Defective equipment and inadequate safety procedures and gear also add to the risk of longshoreman injuries. In response, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration came up with regulations in 2011 to promote a safer working environment including lighting standards, first-aid training, hazardous materials training and safe motor vehicle operation. According to the website of Pohl and Berk, LLP, employers have a duty to ensure the safety of their workers as much as possible, and should use these regulations to accomplish this. When employees are hurt on the job, the employers may be held liable, especially if the accident resulted from a dangerous situation onsite.

However, some employers fail to follow these regulations and expose their workers to the risk of longshoreman injuries unnecessarily. Workers who suffer from this negligence can avail of federal and civil solutions to get compensation for these injuries. People shouldn’t have to fear being injured at work due to overly dangerous job conditions beyond those which are reasonable for the job at hand.

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