Engine Room Accidents
Fires & Explosions on Offshore Vessels
Each offshore worker who is employed on a vessel has a different job function to perform. Some workers are responsible for maintenance, others are responsible for supervision and others are responsible for the engine room. Those who work in the engine rooms must have a working knowledge of the mechanics of the system, as well as be fully equipped in the event that a fire breaks out. On ships, one of the most common places a fire can break out is in the engine room. The National Transportation Safety Board for this reason recommends that vessels come equipped with an automatic fire detection system. A fire alarm will sound if a fire has broken out in the engine room and no one was there to prevent or notice it.
Engine rooms of vessels also have what is known as a propulsion hydraulic system. Fires can break out when the pressurized components fail, causing hydraulic oil to spray onto the engine exhaust, igniting a flame that can quickly spread. Less complicated than this, engine room fires can start simply because there was an overheating. This is why generators and other equipment must be monitored so closely. Watching the gauges intently is a good way to remediate a problem before it gets too bad. Those who work in the engine room should be trained in the actions to take if they notice the equipment overheating. Those who work in the engine room but have not been properly trained are at an increased risk of being seriously burned or otherwise injured.
In order to decrease the risk of fire, harmonic filters are used in engine rooms. "Harmonics" are voltages and currents that are used to operate an engine. Because these currents can malfunction relatively easily, they should be conducted through filters. This will reduce voltage and fire hazards. Not only do vessels have to have the proper harmonic filters in place, but they need to be properly maintained. Gauges can give false readings and harmonic filters could be defective. Whatever the cause, fires can be hard to investigate because of the damage that they cause. What offshore employers and employees can do is make sure that machinery is being properly maintained as well as supervised.
I'm an offshore worker and was burned. What help can I get?
Burns are incredibly serious injuries- especially burns caused by flames. Chemical burns and burns from the sun have the capacity to do serious damage, but burns which are caused by flames coming into contact with the skin are severely damaging. Burns are classified from first to fourth degree, with fourth degree burns being the most serious. Fourth and even some third degree burns are so serious that they even require amputation. When workers are severely burned, they lose function of their muscles and even lose feeling in the burned limbs. This can definitely prevent them from being able to work again.
If you were burned while performing your job duties then there is a good chance that you have a claim. Depending on your seaman status, you may be entitled to
Jones Act benefits. Even if you are not entitled to Jones Act benefits, you may be able to get compensation under another provision of admiralty law. Our firm exists to help offshore workers recognize their rights. If your life was drastically changed because of an on-the-job injury, then look to Arnold & Itkin for the representation you need.