HomeLibraryMaritime AccidentsHazards of Working in Confined Spaces in Louisiana Shipbuilding and Repair

Hazards of Working in Confined Spaces in Louisiana Shipbuilding and Repair


Louisiana Jones Act seamen working on commercial ships often find themselves doing their jobs in confined spaces. According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), a confined space is defined as a space that in some way hinders employees from entering, exiting and working.

OSHA calls these spaces “permit-required confined spaces,” or “permit spaces.” A permit space has special dangers, including:

  • A potentially hazardous atmosphere.
  • A material present that could potentially surround or cover an entrant.
  • Walls that converge inward.
  • Floors that slope downward into an area that could trap a worker or cause asphyxiation.
  • Other known safety hazards like live wires, excessive heat or unguarded machinery.

Maritime ship work regularly requires employees to enter and work in such spaces, and the dangers are clear. Given the types of injuries that can occur when working in confined spaces that have not been safely maintained, every ship owner owes his or her employees the very best in safety practices. Here are some of the specific hazards for maritime workers in confined spaces:

Fires caused by residual materials in tanks, like left over fumes from toxic liquids, gases or solids.
Hot work like welding and flame cutting that causes pyrolysis products to be released. Some of these products include lead, fumes from metal, and nitrogen dioxide.

at causes pyrolysis products to be released. Some of these products include lead, fumes from metal, and nitrogen dioxide.
Painting materials can cause both fire and health problems. Examples are oils, pigments, painting additives, and solvents.
Oxygen deficiency can occur whenever a gas or gases displace the oxygen in a confined space. This can happen for many reasons, including fermentation of cargo, refrigeration by dry ice, unventilated compartments and compartments that have been sealed a long time.

Still a problem is asbestos, which can cause lung function and disease concerns.

Some cargos contain products that cause allergy and/or skin problems.

Because of the dangers of working in confined spaces, OSHA, along with the Coast Guard, has developed safety regulations for all ship company employees. Unfortunately, the regulations are sometimes ignored, forgotten, or skipped in order to get a job done more quickly and/or save money.

If you or a loved one has suffered an injury or illness working in a confined space on board a ship, you are protected by the Jones Act, which gives you the guaranteed right to “a safe place to work.” Contact Louisiana maritime law specialists, The Young Firm, today for a free case evaluation. Call toll free 866-723-4311 ore fill out the simple form on this page.



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