Winch Injuries & Deaths on Fishing Boats, Barges & Vessels

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Winch Accident Lawyer

Everyday workers are injured on boats due to cable and wire entanglements with a drum winch, capstan and/or cathead. The winch accidents often result in very serious injuries or fatalities to the worker. Due to the nature of the occupation, barge workers and shrimp and fishing boat workers use the drum winches frequently to haul the anchors, nets and lines. In the process of this constant in and out of the nets and anchors, the winches are used throughout the day resulting in numerous chances of entanglements with the workers and the cable and other cabling and line injuries.

Many of the drum winches still in use are worn out and out-dated and do not have proper safety guides to prevent the worker from getting to close to a pinch point of the revolving drum or gears. Also most drum winches and catheads are not equipped with an easy to reach emergency cut off bar or switch easily accessible to the trapped worker. In many of the winch entanglement deaths, the worker was working alone on deck when they got caught in the cable or the spool of the drum while the winch was set to take in chain, cable, wire rope or synthetic rope. Frayed wire rope or metal cable can fray and these sharp frays can catch on loose or baggy clothing and pull the worker into the drum. Other times workers have accidently fallen or backed into the pinch point of the drum and been entrapped in the cabling resulting in traumatic amputation of fingers, hands, legs, feet and even ones mid-section of their body. When this happens often the consequences are grave. Even manual winches used on tugs and barges to connect a barge and make-up a tow, need to be used with caution as serious back and neck strains and injuries in securing a barge. Besides in taking in cable, releasing the cable and winch under tension can cause serious injuries and must be done carefully. Each winch is different and as such caution in operating them must be maintained at all times.

Winch accidents are preventable. The boat or vessel employer in many cases however must be willing to implement strict safety guidelines and spend the necessary funds (money!!) to install additional equipment and hire extra workers to prevent many these winch injuries and deaths from occurring. Some of the ways to prevent winch accidents and injuries include:

  • Adding safety guards to all drum winches;
  • Prohibit the wearing of bagging or loose clothing when working near operating drum winches and catheads;
  • Never allow worker to work on deck alone if winches are being operated;
  • Install safety guides to prevent the worker from getting too close to all spinning equipment, gears or drum winches;
  • Install emergency power cut-off switches or grab bars to cut off the PTO, engine or winch in case of an emergency;
  • Remove from use any cables with frays or cuts that might catch on clothing;
  • Teach workers never to use their boot or foot to kick off or attempt to un-twist a loop or twist in the wire rope or cable;
  • Perform routine inspections to make sure cable is free of twists, bends and frays;
  • Make sure worker are taught to avoid standing in the bite or a loop in the wire rope;
  • Inspect and test emergency power off switches and make sure they are properly labeled;
  • Provide additional winch safety training on a routine basis, especially to all new hires or green horns; and
  • Educate operators with different styles of winches and brakes that they may come in contact with along the voyage.

While winch drum and cathead accidents are all too common, fish and shrimp boat and barge workers they worker are not immune from other injuries from slips and falls on slippery decks and neck and back lifting injuries from pulling and lifting heavy nets, seines, and boxes or crates of cargo or product. Additionally some workers may become victims of drowning, crane and hoisting injuries, electrical shock, benzene and chemical exposures, assaults from crew members and accidental deaths and injuries from negligent or reckless acts of others onboard the vessel. Boat owners and operators must act in a reasonable and prudent manner to prevent worker injuries and stop the attitude that accidents just happen, as they can and must be prevented.

Winch Accident & Injury Lawsuit – Talk to a Lawyer

When a worker on fishing vessel, barge, shrimp or crab boat or any vessel is injured by a winch or other places on a vessel, that injured worker has rights under the Jones Act for daily maintenance and cure and for other legal damages against the employer for simple negligence and under General Maritime Laws as well.

The Jones Act and other maritime laws are governed by strict filing deadlines and time tables. To be certain that a time deadline doesn’t expire, call and talk to a lawyer. Additionally in serious injury cases the cable, winch or other defective product may need to be secured, inspected by experts or possibly preserved as evidence for a lawsuit. In such serious injury cases, a lawyer’s immediate intervention is a must to protect the injured worker.

Call us to get your Maritime injury questions answered. All consultations are free and we never charge unless the case is settled and a recovery is made. Call 24/7 our Nationwide Toll Free Number 1-800-883-9858 and talk to a Maritime Injury Lawyer Now.

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