Offshore injuries to Crane Operators
Common Causes of Crane Injuries & What to Do
As an offshore crane operator, your injury is usually caused in one of two ways. First,the crane itself may malfunction causing a very serious injury. Fortunately, this is unusual. We have handled cases involving crane collapses when welds failed which were devastating. If your injury involved the crane itself malfunctioning or worse yet, collapsing, you will want to get all the maintenance records and the original design and testing records. You will typically have a claim against your employer as well as third parties who built and/or should have properly maintained the crane. All cranes go through regular inspections and these are almost always done by a specialized third party company that your company brings out to the crane.
The other more common way that you as a crane operator may have been injured involves work or activities outside of the cranes. These injuries are usually caused by you trying to perform heavy manual labor such as rigging work or helping to move items on the deck. In this situation, you should always ask “why was I doing work that my co-workers may have been responsible for?” You may have jumped in because the roustabouts weren’t doing the work properly as trained or you were shorthanded. Then there are situations where your injury was caused by an unsafe personnel basket transfer or a dangerous condition on the rig such as a dangerous deck surface or dangerous stairs. These situations can easily give rise to a very valid claim for you to pursue to help get you back to where you should be.
Returning to Work? Why You Should Wait
All offshore injury cases involve the very important issue of whether or not you should try to return to work, and if so, when. Read this article here for very important information about rushing to return to work. But as a crane operator, you are in a particularly tough position regarding returning to work. Your company will claim that your job as a crane operator is ‘light duty’ work, or at worst ‘medium duty’. Your company will argue that even after a serious injury and surgery, including back or neck surgery, you can still return to being a crane operator earning the same amount you earned at the time of your injury. I strongly disagree with this statement for several reasons.
As a crane operator you still have to be qualified to work offshore, which means passing serious physical testing including the Helicopter Underwater Escape Training (HUET). Try doing this with a bad back. You also may have to transfer via personnel basket to and from the rig, or ride a vessel out to the rig.
Finally, while it is rare, there could be an evacuation situation offshore, leaving you at serious risk if you can’t drop from the rig in the escape boats. And while your company may claim that the crane work itself is light or medium duty work, most crane operators do have to get out of the crane to assist with some of the heavy manual labor from time to time, or instruct roustabouts on the proper way to rig items.
Beyond the above physical issues with returning to work offshore a crane operator, you also may face long periods of sitting in the crane for hours at a time. This activity could easily aggravate a lower back injury.
Apply for Long Term Disability
One final thought about your options as an injured offshore crane operator. You very well may have Long Term Disability available to you. Read this article to learn how LTD can help you greatly and why returning to work too quickly can seriously limit your future options if you have an LTD policy.
As an offshore crane operator you made very good money. I understand the desire to return to work as quickly as possible. But your job is still an offshore job, and as I have often heard it said, “There is no light duty job offshore.”
Call us to discuss your situation to see what options you have and the best steps to take to protect yourself.