Workers employed at Maritime facilities like offshore oil rigs have different rights than other employees. Their jobs carry higher risks than those of terrestrial workers, and they often have to work for many days or weeks straight without seeing loved ones in person. If they get hurt at work, their claim process will be much different than the average worker’s.
Instead of workers’ compensation insurance protecting them when they get hurt on the job, they have protection under the Jones Act. They will need to bring a lawsuit against their employer to secure compensation for lost wages and medical expenses that result from an offshore injury, which means they will need to prove fault.
In theory, businesses operating offshore facilities have responsibilities to their employees and must conform to numerous federal regulations. Some companies have started using Stop Work Authority policies as a way to diminish their own liability and deny workers reasonable compensation for job injuries.
How Stop Work Authority functions
The idea behind Stop Work Authority policies is simple. Companies or lawmakers empower every worker, regardless of their position, to immediately stop all work at an offshore site when they notice a critical safety issue.
The problem with such policies is obvious. It puts pressure on individual workers to speak up about law-breaking and unsafe practices instead of on the company to prioritize safety. If workers fail to speak up when they think something might be unsafe, the company can then use their choice to not stop all work on the job site as a justification for denying them compensation later. Simply put, what seems like a way to protect workers from injury often does more to protect the company.
Workers shouldn’t have to enforce safety standards
Yes, it is good for workers to theoretically have the authority to stop work if they believe that their safety or the safety of their co-workers is at risk. However, companies should not use policies aimed to empower their staff against unsafe operational practices to diminish their liability for those unsafe practices.
Workers needing to make a maritime compensation claim often face an uphill struggle against their former or current employer. Learning about the policies and rules that may affect a maritime injury claim will increase your chances of success.