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Conveyor Belt Injuries

Conveyor belts are used in many industries, including the fishing industry. Fish processing vessels often have many conveyor belts. Although they have become common, these conveyor belts have the potential to cause serious injury or even death.

Maritime work is dangerous. It is critical that anyone who has suffered a conveyor belt injury seek the help of an experienced maritime injury lawyer as soon as possible.

Washington, Alaska, Oregon, and California Conveyor Belt Injury Lawyers

If you have suffered a conveyor belt injury, you have rights. Regardless of negligence, you are entitled to compensation to cover the costs of your medical care and any income lost because of your injury. To receive quality assistance in your case, contact Anderson Carey Williams & Neidzwski, LLP. Our maritime lawyers carry over four decades of experience assisting injured seamen obtain favorable outcomes.

Anderson Carey Williams & Neidzwski, LLP’s attorneys are licensed to practice in the courts ofWashington, California, Oregon, and Alaska.  The firm represents clients nationwide.  Call 1 (800) 262-8529 to schedule an initial consultation.


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Potential Injuries from Conveyor Belts

There are various ways an individual might be injured while working near a conveyor belt. Such injuries may include:

  • Fractured or broken bones
  • Amputations of fingers, hands, arms, feet, legs, etc.
  • Injuries caused by crushing
  • Lacerations (cuts)
  • Degloving (large amounts of skin being peeled away)
  • Trauma to the head or brain
  • Back injuries
  • Neck injuries
  • Burns
  • Electrocution from poor wiring or dangerous electrical outlet placement
  • Paralysis
  • Strangulation (when clothing gets wrapped around the neck and then pulled by the conveyor belt)
  • Death

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Potential Causes Of Injuries From Conveyor Belts

Many things can go wrong to cause or contribute to a conveyor belt injury. Causes of conveyor belt injuries may include:

  • Improper assembly of the conveyor belt or other moving parts/equipment
  • Improper calibration of the conveyor belt or other machinery
  • Moving conveyor belts or pinch points that are exposed or not properly guarded
  • Excessive conveyor belt speed
  • Defective conveyor belt or other machinery
  • Poor training of employees
  • Improper maintenance of the conveyor belt or other machinery
  • Overloaded belts (too many fish or too much weight)
  • Lack of supervision of employees and machines
  • Inadequate lockout procedures
  • Bad wiring or other issues involving electricity
  • Safety equipment not available

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Compensation For Injuries From Conveyor Belts

Depending on case specifics, there are multiple avenues to compensation that might be available to an individual injured by a conveyor belt on a vessel.

Maintenance And Cure

Maintenance and cure provides compensation to seamen injured on the job, such as by a conveyor belt. Maintenance covers basic living expenses—such as rent, utilities, and food—while the injured individual recovers. Cure covers medical bills associated with the injury, including hospital bills, doctor’s visits, medication, rehabilitation, and medical equipment. Maintenance and cure ends when a doctordeclares that further medical treatment is not likely to improve the seaman’s shipboard injury. To get the benefits of maintenance and cure, an individual does not have to prove that the employer was at fault or did anything wrong. Maintenance and cure covers illnesses and medical conditions that occur in the service of a vessel, whether or not it is at sea, even if the illness or medical condition is not due to maritime work.

The Jones Act

The Merchant Marine Act of 1920, known as the Jones Act, allows a seaman injured by a conveyor belt to bring a claim for an injury caused by their employer’s negligence. If the negligence of an employer or a crew member contributed at all to the conveyor belt injury, a claim may be brought under the Jones Act, even if the contribution was slight.  This is a significantly lower burden of proof than typical, non-maritime personal injury cases. Under the Jones Act, an individual may seek damages for lost earnings, lost earning capacity, medical expenses (past, present, and future), pain and suffering (past, present, and future), and mental anguish (past, present, and future).

Maintenance and cure is governed by the doctrine of laches, which generally equates to the statute of limitations of three years.

Unseaworthiness

Vessel owners owe a warranty of seaworthiness to all who work aboard the ship.  If a ship or it appurtenances are not reasonably fit for their intended purpose, it is unseaworthy. A claim for unseaworthiness may be brought if an injured seaman can prove that the ship they were injured on was not reasonably safe to perform its mission. An individual claiming unseaworthiness may recover damages, including medical expenses, lost earnings, lost earning capacity, pain and suffering, and mental anguish. A ship may be considered unseaworthy if the conveyor belt system is not safely operating or if it is not properly maintained.

A claim for unseaworthiness has a statute of limitations of three years.

The Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act

Longshore workers, ship-repairers, shipbuilders, and harbor construction workers are usually not considered seamen. A special law— the Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act (LHWCA)— applies to these employees who frequently work aboard ships, but owe their allegiance to a shoreside employer, like a stevedore or repair yard.. Since the Jones Act applies to seamen and LHWCA applies to longshoremen and harbor workers, a maritime worker’s employer will typically classify the worker as one or the other for purposes of determining eligibility for benefits.

A claim for compensation from one’s employer under the LHWCA has a statute of limitations of only one year.

The Death on The High Seas Act

If one dies while working on a ship in the ocean, the Death on the High Seas Act may apply. To qualify, the ship must be more than three miles off the shores of the USA. For the deceased’s family/loved ones to bring a successful claim, the death must have resulted from negligence or a wrongful act on the part of the ship’s owner or crew.

Death on the High Seas Act has a statute of limitations of three years.


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Additional Resources

OSHA Standards for marine terminal conveyors  – The United States Department of Labor Occupational Safety and Health Administration has released standards for marine terminal conveyors.

OSHA Standards for conveyors – The United States Department of Labor Occupational Safety and Health Administration has released standards for all conveyors.


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Conveyor Belt Injury Attorneys |  Washington, Oregon, Alaska, California

If you were injured in a conveyor belt accident aboard a shipping vessel, contact Anderson Carey Williams & Neidzwski, LLP. Our skilled maritime lawyers understand you may be entitled to damages and can help you secure it. We have over four decades of experience in maritime law and we are prepared to take your call.

Anderson Carey Williams & Neidzwski, LLP serves clients in Washington, California, Oregon and Alaska. To schedule your first consultation, call 1 (800) 262-8529.


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  • The Maritime Law Association of The United States
    The Maritime Law Association of the United States (MLA) was founded in 1899. Its formation was prompted by the organization, some three years earlier, of the International Maritime Committee.
  • Washington State Bar Association
    The Washington State Bar Association operates under the delegated authority of the Washington Supreme Court to license the state's nearly 40,000 lawyers and other legal professionals.
  • Oregon State Bar
    The Oregon State Bar is a government agency in the U.S. state of Oregon. Founded in 1890 as the private Oregon Bar Association, it became a public entity in 1935 that regulates the legal profession.
  • Alaska Bar Association
    The Alaska Bar Association is a mandatory bar association responsible to the Alaska Supreme Court for the admission and discipline process of attorneys for the State of Alaska.