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Conveyor Belt Injuries on Factory Trawlers

Conveyor belts are commonly used by commercial fishermen to quickly and efficiently process seafood on factory trawlers. The conveyor belts around the processing factories and into and out of cargo storage. While great for productivity, conveyor belts can be a safety hazard. Many maritime workers are injured or killed by conveyor belts every year.

Common Conveyor Belt Injuries

Conveyor belts can cause a wide range of injuries ranging from mild to severe. Below are some of the most common injuries caused by conveyor belts on factory trawlers.

  • Crush Injuries. Conveyor belts consist of several moving pulleys, and limbs can get caught in the belts resulting in loss of limbs or broken bones.
  • Blunt Force Trauma. Heavy objects can fall from unsecured or overloaded conveyor belts and strike workers below. Examples of blunt force trauma include traumatic brain injuries and spinal cord injuries.
  • Degloving Injuries. When hands are caught in the moving parts of a conveyor belt, the soft tissue can be pulled off. Degloving injuries occur most often when the conveyor belts lack proper guards.
  • Burns and Abrasions. Seamen can suffer burns and abrasions if there is faulty or exposed wiring.
Risks of Working with Conveyor Belts

The risks of working with conveyor belts on factory trawlers increase significantly when the employer or vessel owner acts negligently. Most conveyor belt injuries can be avoided if the proper precautions are taken. Below are some examples of negligent acts that can cause conveyor belt injuries.

  • Improper training. Your employer should have training programs to teach workers how to safely operate the conveyor belt and report unsafe conditions. One untrained worker can put everyone at risk.
  • Inadequate guards. Conveyor belts should have guard railing to prevent workers from coming into contact with the belt and getting caught in the machinery.
  • Inadequate maintenance. Employers should perform routine maintenance on conveyor belts. Conveyor belts are comprised of a number of moving parts. Broken or improperly installed parts can easily result in injuries.
  • Unsecured conveyor belts. If objects on conveyor belts are not adequately secured, heavy objects can fall and injure seamen.
  • Fatigue. Workers must receive adequate breaks and work shifts of appropriate lengths. Tired workers are much more likely to make mistakes that result in injuries.
Legal Rights of Injured Seamen

If you were injured in a conveyor belt accident, you might be entitled to compensation under maritime law. Regardless of negligence, you are entitled to maintenance and cure benefits covering medical expenses and living expenses. However, many accidents would have been prevented with proper training, equipment, and safety procedures. If negligence was the cause of your injury, you might be entitled to even greater compensation under the Jones Act.

Kraft Davies Olsson PLLC is a nationally recognized leader in maritime personal injury law. Kraft Davies has significant experience representing seamen who have suffered conveyor belt injuries against vessel owners, maritime employers, and maritime insurance companies. If you or a loved one were injured in a commercial fishing or shipping accident, contact the attorneys at Kraft Davies today at 206-624-8844 or through this website.