Discussions about California’s navigable waterways too often focus almost exclusively on the Pacific Ocean. Thousands of ships arrive at ports in California every day transporting both goods and passengers.
However, the navigable waterways of California can reach substantially inland. Under current statutes, rivers that are navigable by vessels are subject to the same protections as maritime environments, including the open ocean. Workers performing jobs on fishing vessels, container ships and passenger boats on California’s rivers might end up injured as part of their job and facing major challenges as a result of their work injuries. The following are some of the most pressing risks when individuals work on vessels that travel rivers in California.
The possibility of a collision
During times of strong currents or bad weather, it is easy for those operating vessels to temporarily lose control. They could be at risk of striking another vessel, a dock or the banks of the river. Collisions can lead to major injuries for anyone on board and might also throw workers out into the water, which could prove catastrophic in some cases.
The potential for struck-by incidents
Those working on vessels often have to handle heavy machinery or manage the process of docking and returning to the water. Workers could end up struck by heavy machinery. Those working on container ships could end up hurt if the containers shift due to violent weather or unanticipated vessel maneuvers. Even those working on passenger vessels could end up hurt while attempting to facilitate landfall. Such injuries might lead to broken bones or even amputations that could prevent a maritime worker from continuing their career.
The risk of going in the water
One does not need to be on the open ocean for the waters themselves to pose a serious health hazard. Often, the incidents that push workers off of vessels into the water might render them unconscious or unable to effectively swim. Especially if a worker does not routinely use a personal flotation device (PFD) while performing their job, they could be at risk of drowning or a near-drowning experience. Those that go into the water could suffer traumatic injuries from falling, might develop infections from inhaling water or could even acquire brain injuries due to oxygen deprivation.
Workers injured on vessels out on the navigable waterways of California may have the option of taking legal action. There are statutes that allow for lawsuits against employers when negligence leads to someone’s injury. Those who experience a maritime caused by a third party, such as another vessel operator, may also have grounds to take legal action against that third party. Ultimately, taking the party at fault for an on-the-job injury to court is sometimes necessary for maritime workers who require medical coverage or wage replacement benefits.