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Many jobs on a ship could be the cause of hearing loss

There are moments when those from here in Louisiana get the view of a lifetime on board the ship they work on. Just the noise of the water, the stars and the salty breeze in a quiet corner can often make a rough day worthwhile. However, over time, some of those workers may no longer be able to enjoy the sounds of the water due to noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL) caused by their jobs.

Hearing can easily be damaged by exposure to dangerously loud and prolonged noises. Even short bursts of these loud noises on a routine basis could damage an individual's hearing. In many cases, the loss is not noticed right away. It could take months or even years of exposure for the full extent of the damage to occur. Workers could begin to notice that they cannot quite make out the words another person is saying even though they can hear them talking.

How do death benefits work for the LHWCA?

Friends and family members of Louisiana maritime workers prefer not to think about the possibility that their loved ones might not make it back home one night. Unfortunately, these are high-risk environments that could lead to severe injuries or fatal diseases.

If you are a close family member of a maritime contractor or oil rig worker, you should learn about your eligibility for Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act (LHWCA) benefits. As difficult as it is to think about, knowing how these benefits work can help you financially recover from tragedy.

Back injuries often happen the same way no matter where you work

Working on the vessels that navigate the country's waters from here in Louisiana can provide one with a unique work experience that he or she may never get anywhere else. However, that does not mean that workers do not have anything in common with people who work on land. The back injuries they suffer, for instance, probably end up happening in the same way as on land and are just as debilitating.

If a worker's job on a navigable vessel involves lifting objects and otherwise handling any materials that require the use of his or her back, that worker could end up suffering a back injury. Moreover, many of the duties vessel workers perform are repetitive, and if they involve the use of the back, workers may find themselves going home at the end of the day with a backache that never seems to go away. Musculoskeletal injuries happen far more often than anyone realizes since many people simply accept their back pain as part of the job.

How is compensation determined for the Defense Base Act?

Determining the rate for workers’ compensation can be difficult for any workplace injury. The employer and insurance company typically base it different variables such as the severity of the damage, the worker’s salary and who was responsible for the accident.

While the Defense Base Act (DBA) still varies based upon the accident’s circumstances, it is slightly more straightforward than other careers as most severe injuries often have a set amount no matter if you are working the docks in Louisiana or Iraq. If you want to be able to calculate how this affects your annual earnings, you should know the standard process.

Getting the right medical care on oil rigs

Offshore explosions, catastrophic equipment failures and other high-profile incidents often receive the most attention from the media here in Louisiana and elsewhere. In these instances, people envision an appropriately dramatic response, including medivac helicopters, to handle the evacuation of the injured. While that may occur sometimes, one company who provides medical services for those on oil rigs says it is not always necessary, and in some cases, causes more harm than good. 

Companies who employ Louisiana residents to work on their oil rigs are responsible for making sure adequate medical care is available when needed. Many of the injuries suffered by oil rig workers do not require evacuation from the rig. Instead, what they often need is on-site care and observation. If necessary, a helicopter can be called in to remove a patient from the rig.

Working on Louisiana's docks and seaports can be hazardous

Every industry comes with its hazards to employees. In this region, that includes working on Louisiana's docks and seaports. Some of the more common sources of injuries in this work environment are discussed below.

It does not take much imagination to figure out that loading and unloading cargo requires employees to use a variety of equipment such as forklifts and cranes, which come with their own unique dangers. These vehicles and equipment, along with others in use on docks and at seaports, could result in workers being crushed or run over, along with the potential for falling off vehicles and equipment. Workers can fall off more than just vehicles, however.

Why should I get an attorney for my LHWCA claim?

Unfortunately, court can be unavoidable for some applying for a claim under the Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act (LHWCA). Some employers and insurance companies try to come up with arguments and loopholes to prevent Louisiana maritime workers from getting the coverage they deserve for their injuries.

While it is possible to go alone and face off against your employers, you do not have to. The United States Department of Labor advises injured or disabled workers to talk to an attorney for assistance in settling their case. Some may refuse to avoid potential attorney fees, they are missing out on several benefits that come from getting a lawyer’s help.

Common injuries suffered aboard vessels

Working on a seafaring vessel may be a dream for many Louisiana residents. But anyone who navigates the country's waterways also takes on a certain level of risk. Any number of injuries could happen aboard vessels and may keep workers from their jobs and even cause lifelong repercussions to their health and well-being.

Workers on a vessel are exposed to numerous sharp and/or hot objects. Keeping one's hands and feet clear of these objects could prevent common injuries. The use of proper gloves and footwear is essential. Employers typically require all employees to use the proper safety gear, all the way down to shoes and gloves.

Why should I appear in court for the LHWCA?

Unfortunately, getting benefits from the Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act (LHWCA) is not always an easy task. There are numerous varying factors that could impact how much compensation you would get out of it such as the conditions of your injury and your employer’s response to your plea.

As a Louisiana maritime worker, it is important for you to understand some of the factors that could evolve your injury report into a court case so you can begin properly preparing for the trial.

Refrigeration systems on vessels present injury hazards

Many of the vessels off the coast of Louisiana have refrigeration systems on board. The compounds used in those systems could pose significant dangers to those working on, near or around them. Without taking the proper precautions, injury hazards could put several people at risk at any given time.

The two primary chemicals used in vessel refrigeration systems that could cause injury include halocarbons and ammonia. Many people believe that ammonia's strong smell, whether in liquid or gas form, should alert workers who will then evacuate the area. However, after repeated exposure to this particular chemical, a worker may not be able to smell it as well, which could put him or her in danger.

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