8 Main Hazards Faced by Shipyard Workers

Shipyard workers tend to be those working in some of the most risky working environments. This not only adds to the problems of their job but actually makes it a work profile full of need for constant caution.

Working as a ship yard worker is not as simple or easy as it may seem.

damen shipyard

Here are some of the problems for ship workers that make this job a really hard one:

1. Working Conditions

Ship yards are not one of the most comfortable places to work in. It is no corner office with glass walls. Instead there is a constant danger in everything a shipyard worker does. The conditions that shipyard jobs offer to work in are not only rather uncomfortable but also dangerous to the workers’ health.

There are several precautions that need to be taken. Sometimes it is extremely cramped spaces while at other times; the mere fall can be high enough to cause serious injury. Extreme nature of working conditions of shipyard workers is the first problem they face.

2. Timings

Work on shipyards is no nine-to-five job. There are no fixed timings. The extreme nature of their job means the workers have to be available at all times.

The erratic time schedules make this job harder than it already is, and definitely adds to the woes of workers. Sometimes they even have to work for several hours together without much rest.

3.  Machinery Hazard

Ship yards are the places where no work happens at small scale. The machinery used is huge, often requiring immense skill and strength to be handled. A minor discrepancy while working at such machinery can prove to be extremely fatal for any shipyard worker.

The seriousness of injury can be as bad as death, in some cases. Records of workers having been gravely injured date back to as early as 1940s, a time when ship construction really took off all over the world. Constant danger posed by the heavy machinery is what is third problem faced by shipyard workers.

4. Slips and falls

It would be too much to assume that working on shipyards, in conditions similar to what these shipyard workers work in, minor falls and trips would be rare. However, the seriousness of these minor slips on shipyards is much more compared to somewhere else.

The workers on such ships always run a risk of slipping or falling but here, there are more chances they might not just fall but fall down several feet. Cases of severe injuries like multiple fractures, head injuries, traumatic experiences, amputations and sometimes even drowning have been reported. The risky conditions of work and their vulnerability to injury is the fourth problem faced by workers on shipyards.

5.  Fires and explosions

Shipworkers work close to fire and electricity. The high chances of a minor fault going wrong means things can go from bad to worse in a jiffy. Chances of fires, explosions, shot circuit; electric shocks etc are extremely high on shipyards. This high risk of fires and burns becomes another problem for people working on shipyards.

6. Cramped spaces and high pressure

Most ship workers work just as much in tiny cramped spaces as they do in ridiculously open ones. The cramped spaces (enclosed spaces) are one of the riskiest places to be working in. A shipyard worker, while working in such tiny spaces is often at risk of physical injuries to limbs, head or other body parts along with more serious troubles like suffocation, asphyxiation etc.

Also, the high pressure in such tiny spaces can often cause much more grave and permanent damage like eardrum rupture. Shipyard workers often complain of problems to their hearing abilities due to working constantly under high pressure conditions.

7.  Asbestosis and mesothelioma

Asbestos is used as one of the construction materials for most ships even today. Shipyard workers involved in work of manufacturing of ships and even those not specifically into that particular aspect of shipyard jobs often receive extremely high exposure to asbestos, making them quite vulnerable to diseases caused by it. Asbestosis, along with mesothelioma which is a cancer caused exclusively by asbestos exposure are very serious diseases found mostly in workers working in close proximity to this substance. It is one of the biggest problems faced by workers working in the ship industry especially so since there is still no perfect solution to this problem.

One of the bigger problems with this particular aspect of job is that the symptoms caused due to exposure to asbestos can surface even after many years. Reports of these symptoms showing up in a person up to 50 years after exposure to it have been found. This adds a whole new dimension to this problem making it much more serious.

8. Improper knowledge

But the biggest problem faced by most of the shipyard workers is that they are mostly unaware about the laws and safety measures made to protect them. In terms of laws enabling them to seek suitable work conditions or the laws that allow them to seek compensation in case of serious injury or just basic information about exposure to hazardous substances like asbestos, the knowledge of these workers is low. This poses as the biggest problem for the workers as it prevents them from finding solutions to most of their other problems.

The problems faced by every worker on shipyards are immense but their implications are even bigger. With correct measures, a lot of these problems can be tackled but there is still a long way to go.

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