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Shipyard Accidents

Shipyard workers face many hazards and, consequently, may sustain severe injuries. Shipyards are fast-paced working environments, and shipyard workers may use dangerous machinery, giving rise to risks of injury and death

Vessel crew and officers may be assigned to shipyard work.  This commonly occurs in the commercial fishing industry when crewmembers work in the shipyard to prepare their vessel for the season or a lay-up.  The injured crewmember retains his or her status as a Jones Act seaman when the on-the-job injury occurs in the shipyard even if it occurs on land or drydock.

Unfortunately, devastating accidents may happen when employers do not take proper care and adequately oversee shipyard operations. Injuries may be severe, leaving employees with permanent disabilities that prevent them from returning to work and causing them to lose wages.

Washington, Oregon, Alaska, and California Shipyard Accident Attorneys

If you have been injured in a shipyard accident, you may be entitled to compensation under the Jones Act or the Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act.In these cases, you want an experienced attorney who will guide you through the legal process and fight aggressively for your rights. Anderson Carey Williams & Neidzwski, LLP has over four decades of experience in maritime law, litigating shipyard injury claims under both the Jones Act and Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act. We can help you through this difficult process and ensure your claim is being handled under the appropriate statutory scheme

Call 1 (800) 262-8529 to set up your free consultation with Anderson Carey Williams & Neidzwski, LLP today. Our skilled maritime lawyers are prepared to look out for your best interests. We serve clients in Washington, Oregon, Alaska, and California.


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Shipyard Accidents in Washington, Oregon, Alaska and California

Types of shipyard accidents include:

  • Chemical exposures
  • Asbestos accidents, including inhalation of asbestos dust and fibers
  • Slip and falls
  • Electrical accidents
  • Explosions and fires
  • Forklift injuries
  • Heavy machinery accidents
  • Equipment failures
  • Ladder failure
  • Winch accidents
  • Crane and heavy machinery accidents
  • Rigging accidents

As a result of shipyard accidents, shipyard workers may suffer a variety of injuries, including:

  • Broken bones and dislocations
  • Severe burns from fires, including chemical fires
  • Traumatic brain injuries (TBI), including concussions
  • Crushing injuries from heavy shipyard objects
  • Hypothermia
  • Hypoxia (oxygen deprivation) from drowning
  • Exposure to chemicals and particles
  • Neck and back injuries
  • Overexertion from operating machinery
  • Repetitive stress injuries
  • Sprains, strains, and tears
  • Chronic illnesses and cancer from long-term fume and smoke inhalation

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Causes of Shipyard Accidents

The Occupational Safety and Health Act governs shipyard operations.  It requires that all employers maintain a safe work environment for employees. Unfortunately, shipyards are riddled with risks that can injure workers:

  • Coworkers may make mistakes. Coworkers may use tools and machines incorrectly or imprudently; these errors can lead to injuries.
  • Tools and machines may break down, resulting in coworker injuries.
  • Hazards at shipyards present a risk of slips, trips, and falls, which can cause broken bones and traumatic brain injuries. Since shipyards are located near water, falling into water and drowning is also a risk for shipyard workers.
  • The hazardous materials present in shipyards may also harm workers. Fuels, fumes, and particles can cause illnesses and explosions.
  • Workers building or repairing ships can be exposed to high heat levels and sustain burns from activities like welding.
  • Fires at shipyards can also cause severe injuries and death.
  • Long-term exposure to fumes and smoke can cause chronic respiratory illnesses.
  • Long-term exposure to fumes and smoke can also cause cancer. Shipyard welders are particularly vulnerable to these effects.

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Longshore and Harbor And Workers’ Compensation Act

State workers’ compensation law generally does not extend to maritime workers because they work in and near navigable waters. Fortunately, the Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act (“LHWCA”) mandates that all employers of people who work on or near navigable waters compensate their employees for injuries in the shipyard.. Specifically, LHWCA requires all employers to provide workerss’ compensation and disability benefits to injured shipyard workers regardless of fault. Employers must give injured shipyard workers medical and disability benefits and must provide survivors’ benefits to families of workers who perish in shipyard accidents. LHWCA also provides that employers cover all medical care costs stemming from an employee’s workplace injury. The disability benefits a worker receives under LHWCA depends on the employee’s wages before the injury. In contrast to most state workers’ compensation benefits, disability benefits under LHWCA change yearly in line with national wage growth.

The LHWCA also provides the injured shipyard worker with a cause of action for negligence against vessels that cause or contribute to their injuries.  When successful, the injured worker may recover damages above and beyond the wages and medical benefits provided by the employer.  Shipyard workers may obtain compensation for their pain,  suffering and emotional distress.

Different contractors with different employers often work in the same shipyard setting.  If a shipyard accident results from the negligence of a contractor from a different company, the injured worker may recover his comp benefits from his or her employer, then pursue additional damages for the negligent contractor’s company.


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The Occupational Safety and Health Act

The Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 charges shipyard employers to keep workplaces free of hazards that are likely to kill or seriously harm shipyard workers. Part 1910.15(a) of the Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSH) requires shipyard employers to adopt health and safety standards. Part 1915, Subpart B of OSHA provides the standards for a space to be safe for hot work, such as welding, as well as providing the standards for a space to be safe for general work, and the standards for work in enclosed spaces. The standards include appropriate levels of oxygen, concentration of flammable vapors, and residual materials. Additionally, employers must post appropriate warning signs.


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Additional Resources

Occupational Safety and Health Administration Shipyard Accident Examination Videos– The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has videos examining shipyard accidents, which provide insight into how shipyard accidents occur and instructions for how to avoid shipyard accidents. The videos cover many types of shipyard hazards, including crane hazards, drowning hazards, fall hazards, hazards of improper use of equipment, lockout and tagout failures.

Centers for Disease Control: Center for Maritime Safety and Health Studies, Shipyards– The Centers for Disease Control explains the kind of work shipyard workers do, the risks shipyard workers face on the job, and the statistics about injuries and deaths of shipyard workers in the United States. Work accidents killed at least 45 shipyard workers between 2011 and 2017. This number was eight percent higher than the national worker fatality rate. Additionally, 61,600 shipyard workers were injured on the job between 2011 and 2017.


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Shipyard Accident Attorneys |  Washington, Oregon, Alaska, and California

Were you injured while working in a shipyard? You can call the maritime injury lawyers at Anderson Carey Williams & Neidzwski, LLP for experienced and reliable counsel. Anderson Carey Williams & Neidzwski, LLP has a history of handling high-profile maritime cases over the years. We can help you obtain compensation if your injury was caused by the negligence of a vessel or a third party also working at the shipyard.

Anderson Carey Williams & Neidzwski, LLP represents  injured shipyard workers on the job in Washington, Oregon, Alaska,  California and beyond. Call 1 (800) 262-8529 to secure an initial consultation with one of our skilled attorneys.


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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.