The death of a crew member on a bulk carrier from electrocution has spurred the Coast Guard to issue a safety alert. The alert informs shipping companies about the importance of maintaining and repairing electrical systems on vessels to prevent accidents and fatalities.
The accident occurred when the crew member went down into the cargo hold. He was electrocuted when his head came into contact with a broken light fixture. One of his fellow crewmembers came after him into the cargo hold, to look for him. This worker too came into contact with the light fixture, and suffered serious electrical injuries. While the first worker was fatally electrocuted, the second has fortunately survived his injuries.
Investigations revealed that the lamp had been removed from the connector box, and the exposed wires had been covered by electrical tape. No one on the vessel seems to have noticed this dangerous condition. It’s also likely that people noticed it and failed to report it or act upon it, until this fatal electrocution. It is extremely unfortunate that one man had to lose his life, and another had to be seriously injured from an electrical hazard that could so easily have been prevented.
The Coast Guard is warning shipping companies to encourage employees to report dangerous electrical hazard conditions on the vessel. Vessel owners must act as soon as they find out about the dangerous condition to ensure that no injuries or fatalities result. Proper inspection, maintenance and repairs of all electrical systems on the vessel are extremely important, because these can not only cause electrocutions and electrical injuries to individual crewmembers, but could also set off fires. This could be disastrous on a ship.
It is horrifying to think that in this day and age of technological advancement; a maritime worker actually gets killed by a broken light fixture that was left carelessly unattended. It seems like there was negligence here, and the seaman’s family here, likely have options not just to file a Jones Act claim of negligence, but also a claim of unseaworthiness.
Our maritime lawyers have represented Jones Act seamen in claims for damages resulting from electrical shock. In one case in particular, SMS Legal obtained a six-figure settlement for a cook who was electrically shocked, causing him to call and injure his back.
The maritime lawyers at Schechter, Shaffer & Harris, L.L.P., Accident & Injury Lawyers represent injured freighter and tanker crews, oil rig and offshore workers, cruise ship workers and other maritime workers in Texas and around the country.