Common hazards on tugboats

On Behalf of | Apr 1, 2024 | Commercial Seamen |

Workers on heavy-duty tugboat vessels face significant hazards on each shift. Mitigating those hazards is critical to avoiding catastrophic injuries and fatalities.

Understanding the common hazards that these workers may face gives the hardworking men and women on tugboats a chance to determine whether they need to take particular precautions to stay safe during each shift.

High risk of injury from heavy machinery and equipment

Tugboat workers frequently operate or work in close proximity to heavy machinery and equipment. Handling ropes, winches and towing apparatus can lead to severe injuries, including crushed limbs, fractures and lacerations. The machinery’s power and the necessity for precise coordination mean a moment’s distraction or a mechanical failure can result in serious accidents.

Exposure to harmful substances

Tugboat workers may be exposed to various harmful substances, including fuel, chemicals and asbestos, especially on older vessels. Handling or being in close proximity to these substances without proper protective equipment can lead to serious health issues, including respiratory problems, skin conditions and long-term illnesses.

Extreme weather conditions and temperature exposures

Operating tugboats often involves working in extreme weather conditions, including heavy rain, high winds and severe cold or heat. These conditions make the job physically challenging and increase the risk of hypothermia, heatstroke and accidents caused by poor visibility or unexpected changes in weather.

Noise-induced hearing loss

The working environment on tugboats is typically noisy because of engines, machinery, and maritime traffic, which contribute to high decibel levels. Prolonged exposure to such noise without adequate hearing protection can lead to noise-induced hearing loss, a permanent condition affecting a worker’s quality of life and ability to perform their duties.

Risk of drowning and hypothermia

Despite safety measures, tugboat workers always face the risk of falling overboard and drowning. Cold water conditions can also lead to hypothermia, further increasing the risk of drowning or severe health consequences if a worker falls into the water or if a boat capsizes in rough conditions.

Injured tugboat seamen have specific legal rights. Working with a legal representative who understands the intricacies of relevant laws is critical because these cases can be complex, and they must be presented effectively in order to better ensure that injured workers are granted what they’re due.