There’s good reason for Congress’s decision to protect commercial seamen, the wards of the Admiralty Court. Their work is hard, and they can be exposed to hazardous conditions on the job. But commercial mariners are still entitled to a safe place to work.
Despite protections from Congress, Jones Act seamen are still exposed to dangerous chemicals, carcinogens, corrosives, and irritants that negatively impact their health. Sometimes the side effects are acute and last only a little while. Other times, the effects are immediately and permanently debilitating. Still other times, it may take decades for the damage to become apparent.
The chemicals that maritime employees are exposed to is as limitless as the cargos their vessels carry. However, some negligent exposures are more common, such as:
Seafarers can be exposed to dangerous chemicals through their skin, by ingestion, or via inhalation. Mariners may not even know that they’ve been exposed.
Mariners should report to the captain/vessel owner and seek medical treatment as soon as possible if they suspect an exposure and experience:
Elevated heart rate
Loss of voice
More serious health issues can develop over time following a toxic exposure accident. These may include:
Immune system damage
Many toxic exposure injuries could have been avoided with reasonable prudence. Training and adequate safety equipment are crucial to protecting mariners who work around dangerous chemicals. Seamen should be warned of the hazards, trained on how to stay safe, and given the equipment necessary to protect themselves (e.g., respirators, gloves, goggles, aprons, etc.). Work should be done at a steady pace without being rushed by supervisors. There should always be adequate ventilation.
It may not seem like a big deal for a maritime worker to be exposed to chemicals every once and a while, but it only takes a small exposure in some cases to do serious damage. In other cases, repeated small exposures can build up to a larger problem over weeks, months, and years.
For over a century, the Jones Act has been in place protecting merchant mariners. Simply put, the Jones Act requires maritime employers to provide commercial seamen with a safe place to work. If a maritime employer is deemed negligent under the Jones Act for toxic exposure, the injured seaman can recover monetary compensation from his or her employer in court.
Toxic chemicals on the job may also render a vessel unseaworthy. Unseaworthiness is an age-old maritime common law remedy. It requires a vessel owner to provide a vessel, equipment, and crew that is staunch, tight, and fit for the intended purpose. A mariner injured by toxic exposure can seek money damages for unseaworthiness as well.
Consult an experienced maritime attorney at Mariner Law, PLLC to discuss your potential claim for exposure injury. You may be entitled to compensation. Toxic exposure and resultant injuries can be scary. You and your family may have significant concerns about the future. Don’t go it alone with your maritime injury claim. At Mariner Law, PLLC, initial consultation with a Jones Act lawyer is always free and there is no obligation. (253) 600-2531. The firm proudly serves mariner clients in Washington, Oregon, New York, Connecticut, Alaska, and nationwide.