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What is Considered a “Safe Place to Work” Under the Jones Act?

Did you know that one of the best rights you have under the Jones Act is your right to a “safe place to work”? The Jones Act specifically requires that your employer provide you with a safe place to work.  This is an incredibly broad obligation on the part of your employer and it can encompass many situations which occur on vessels and rigs.

Slippery Surfaces = Unsafe Workplace

For example, any unsafe condition which exists aboard the vessel or oil rig could constitute an unsafe work environment under the Jones Act.  Typically we see dangerous, slippery substances on the decks of vessels and oil rigs, as well as unsafe walking surfaces which do not have proper non‑skid materials applied to them.  Whereas a typical lawyer who does not handle Jones Act and Maritime cases may think that a slippery substance on the deck of a vessel or oil rig is a commonplace occurrence, true Jones Act and Maritime attorneys experienced with such cases know that these conditions can constitute an unsafe working environment.

Improper Procedures = Unsafe Workplace

Another example of an unsafe workplace comes about if your employer does not provide you with a proper procedure for performing the job you were doing at the time of your accident. On all oil rigs and many vessels there are specialized jobs which are required to be done according to industry practice and customs.  Often a worker aboard the vessel or oil rig may not be familiar with the technical procedures that are supposed to be followed when doing certain jobs.

We often hear our clients simply say “that was the way we always did it.” However, this does not mean that the job was being done properly. It is important that you investigate whether or not your employer provided you with the proper instructions and procedures in regard to the job that you may have been performing when your injury occurred. If your employer did not follow the proper procedures and systems for the job you were doing at the time of your accident, this could constitute an unsafe working environment and be a violation of the Jones Act.  This could allow you to collect full damages for any injuries you suffered.

Incompetent Co-workers = Unsafe Workplace

Finally, a safe place to work includes competent, properly trained co‑workers who are performing all aspects of their work in a proper and safe manner.  It is our custom to always fully investigate the qualifications and experience of any co‑workers that you may have been working with at the time of your accident. If your employer failed to properly train and/screen your co‑workers, your employer may have violated the Jones Act by failing to give you a safe place to work.

Remember, under the Jones Act you have a right to a safe place to work.  Make sure you require your employer to follow the Jones Act for your safety and the safety of others!

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