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Maritime Injuries from Being Struck with a Line or Wire

The maritime industry, with its inherent risks, often witnesses a variety of incidents leading to severe injuries and fatalities. Among these, struck-by incidents involving lines and wires on ships and tugboats are a significant concern. These incidents occur when a line or wire under tension breaks, resulting in a 'snap back' effect, striking workers with an immense force that can lead to serious injuries or death. Understanding the nature of these incidents, preventive measures, and proper training protocols is crucial for ensuring the safety of seafarers.

Understanding the Threat

Struck-by incidents involving lines and wires are not uncommon in the maritime industry. The extreme tension in mooring lines, towlines, and wires, combined with the dynamic forces of waves and ship movement, can lead to catastrophic failures. When these lines or wires break, they whip or snap back with substantial force and speed, often catching workers unaware.

Injuries range from bruises, lacerations, and fractures to more severe cases like amputations, severe head trauma, and fatalities. The unpredictability of the snapping direction amplifies the potential danger to personnel in the vicinity.

Contributing Factors

Several factors contribute to the risk of lines and wires snapping. These include:

  1. Material and Equipment Degradation: Over time, lines and wires undergo wear and tear, leading to potential weak points. The continuous exposure to harsh marine conditions exacerbates this deterioration.
  2. Incorrect Usage: Using inappropriate or mismatched equipment, such as using lines not designed to withstand the loads they are subjected to, can cause lines and wires to fail.
  3. Poor Maintenance: Failure to regularly inspect and maintain equipment can lead to unnoticed damage, which could cause a sudden failure.
  4. Operational Errors: Misjudgments in the handling of lines and wires, including over-tensioning and inadequate securing, can lead to incidents.
Prevention Strategies

Implementing proper safety measures and strategies can significantly reduce the risk of struck-by incidents.

  1. Regular Inspections and Maintenance: Regularly inspecting lines, wires, and associated equipment for signs of wear, tear, or damage is crucial. Any compromised equipment should be repaired or replaced immediately.
  2. Correct Usage: Ensuring that all lines and wires are used within their operational parameters, including load limits, can prevent over-stress and failure.
  3. Safety Training: Comprehensive safety training should be provided to all crew members. This training should cover correct handling procedures, identification of potential risks, and emergency response procedures.
  4. Safety Zones: Establishing designated safety zones, and ensuring crew members stay clear of lines under tension can help reduce the risk of injury in the event of a snap back.
  5. Personal Protective Equipment (PPE): Crew members should always wear appropriate PPE, such as safety boots, helmets, and eye protection, which can provide a measure of protection from potential struck-by incidents.
Free Consultation with Experienced Maritime Attorney.

Struck-by incidents involving lines and wires on ships and tugboats are a significant safety concern in the maritime industry. However, through regular inspections, correct usage, comprehensive training, and the use of safety zones and PPE, these risks can be substantially mitigated. If you or a loved one has been injured while working on a boat, ship, or tug, contact our law firm for a free consultation to see if you can bring a claim for damages.