There are many hazards associated with offshore employment. Whether workers have a job on a fishing vessel or an oil rig, they face dangerous work circumstances in the best of situations. During times of bad weather or when machinery malfunctions, offshore work can sometimes prove deadly. Risks include chemical exposure, fires and injury caused by machinery.
However, the ocean itself is one of the biggest risks to workers. A large number of offshore workers lose their lives on the way to or from an offshore work location. Drownings and near-drownings are a constant issue if offshore employees go into the water while on the job. Workers may not realize how dangerous a near-drowning is until they experience a major incident on the job.
Near-drownings can cause permanent damage
Obviously, when a worker drowns, that is a tragic scenario. Whether they go overboard while riding on a boat on the way to an offshore job location or they get hurt while on the job and end up in the water, workers can lose their lives through drowning. Then their family members have to consider their options for compensation after that tragedy.
If a worker has a personal flotation device (PFD) on at the time of an incident or if other employees see them go into the water, they might receive help before their life is at risk. However, a near-drowning can still cause permanent damage.
Those who aspirate water could very well develop an infection in their lungs afterward. They are also at risk of a brain injury caused by oxygen deprivation. The longer that someone is unconscious in the water, the more likely they are to develop a brain injury. When someone has gone more than four minutes without regularly breathing, their brain is at risk.
Brain injuries manifest in countless different ways, including creating motor function and balance issues or affecting someone’s cognition. Even if a worker recovers from their injury and can leave the hospital, they may not be able to return to the same line of employment. They may have massive medical expenses and lost wages to consider.
Offshore workers have different protection than most standard employees do for an on-the-job injury. For example, they can file a compensation claim under the Jones Act rather than pursuing a workers’ compensation benefits claim in the event of harm. With that said, learning more about job risks can help offshore workers protect themselves from incidents that could leave them unable to work.