Barge Accident Lawyer | Virginia Maritime Attorney

Virginia Maritime Lawyer | Barge Accident LawyerA barge, a flat-bottomed boat, is typically used for transporting freight in harbors and on rivers and canals. These vessels may be powered or can be towed (pushed or pulled) by a tugboat.

Employers are responsible for providing safe and healthy working conditions for their employees, especially in such dangerous working environments that those working on barges face. When an employer fails to do so, employees are put at risk for serious injuries and even death.

According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), approximately 4,000 barges operate in the United States. Between 1997 and 2006, OSHA has recorded 305 barge/tow combination deaths, and 379 explosions or fires resulting in 14 employee deaths.

Types of Barge Accidents

  • Slips, Trips and Falls – According to OSHA slips, trips, and falls are major causes of workplace injuries in the maritime industry. Factors that contribute to these types of accidents on barges include: gear and equipment on deck, slippery surfaces, fatigue, carrying heavy objects, visibility, and unsuitable footwear. These types of barge accidents can also lead to overboard incidents.
  • Falling Overboard – If the deck of a barge does not have an OSHA-compliant railing system, employees on the deck must wear a U.S. Coast Guard-approved life jacket or buoyant work vest. If an employee is working in an enclosed cab they are not required to wear a personal flotation device (PFD), however one must be accessible at all times. Without these regulations, employees are put at risk of drowning if falling overboard. Other things that may increase the risk of falling overboard includes: missing equipment, hazardous working surfaces, and mechanical failures.
  • Machinery and Equipment Accidents – Machinery and equipment related accidents on barges can result in a number of injuries. Injuries to hands, feet, or limbs can occur if they become caught by moving machinery. Head injuries and brain injuries can occur when one is struck by falling or moving equipment. Other potential injuries include becoming pinned underneath a load, fall off of equipment, and electric shock. Dangerous machinery and equipment include hoists, cranes, derricks, and winches. 
  • Unsafe Atmospheric Conditions – Oxygen deficiencies inside tanks and enclosed spaces can cause dangerous conditions. Explosive or flammable atmospheres such as a space previously used as a slop tank that was not properly cleaned. A fuel or gasoline spill will create an explosive atmosphere.
  • Fire Hazards – There are many flammable and combustible materials that may be kept on a barge. When working with equipment that may produce a flame or spark, the space in which the work is being done must tested by a qualified person beforehand. Proper fire extinguishing equipment should also be readily available.

Virginia Maritime Injury Attorney

If you’ve been injured in an accident while working on a barge, or have lost a loved one in a barge accident, you may need a maritime injury lawyer. Attorney Richard Serpe has a Masters Degree (LLM) in maritime law from Tulane University School of Law, and has obtained the highest ranking (Proctor) from the Maritime Law Association of the United States. He has successfully prosecuted cases under the Jones Act, bringing fair and just compensation to workers who were injured while performing their duties.

If you’d like to setup a free consultation with Virginia Maritime Injury Lawyer Richard Serpe,
call us at 877-544-5323 or click here to send us an email.