Those who work in the maritime industry often receive generous wages because they have dangerous jobs that may involve spending days or weeks away from home. Maritime employees depend on their competitive income to provide a reasonable standard of living for their families.
If someone who works in an offshore or maritime environment gets seriously hurt on the job, they will be left without income. Thankfully, although maritime workers typically can’t receive workers’ compensation coverage if they get hurt at work, they are generally empowered to pursue a lawsuit under the Jones Act for maritime injury compensation.
Such claims require that the injured employees establish that fault on the part of their employer contributed to their injuries. For example, workers injured in a fatigue-related incident could develop a claim based on employer negligence under certain circumstances.
Fatigue is a consistent safety concern in the maritime sector
For years, researchers have discussed and analyzed how long shifts and demanding work environments put consistent strain on maritime employees. Some researchers even claim that unaddressed fatigue is a leading cause of death, as it not only contributes to maritime accidents but also to declining overall health for some hardworking maritime employees.
Given how much attention by safety organizations and researchers focuses on the impact of fatigue, employers should reasonably understand that workers need adequate rest or are at elevated risk of both traumatic injury on the job and illness. If companies don’t have policies in place to ensure that maritime employees get adequate rest while on the job and also adequate time off in between long-term projects or contracts, their inability to consider the impact of fatigue could constitute actionable negligence.
Why fatigue is so dangerous
Beyond the connections that fatigue has to numerous other health concerns, there’s little question that fatigue impacts job performance and could therefore increase the risk of a worker getting hurt. Those who haven’t had adequate rest may have compromised decision-making ability and difficulty focusing. They might also doze off on the job, which could have deadly consequences.
Recognizing that employers contribute to worker injuries through bad business practices can help people stand up for themselves after an incident on the job. Seeking legal guidance is usually a solid first step forward.