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.
Even though halocarbons are supposed to be phased out here in the United States, the deadline for that to happen is not until 2030, which is still quite a few years away. In the meantime, workers could still suffer injuries due to the fact that it can replace the oxygen in a confined space and lead to asphyxiation. In a hot environment, halocarbons can decompose into other toxic compounds such as hydroflouric acid and hydrochloric acid.
The presence of these chemicals can present serious injury hazards to workers on vessels when a refrigeration system leaks or breaks. Louisiana residents who work on vessels in the Gulf of Mexico may suffer injuries that could leave them unable to work for a significant period during which they may accumulate substantial medical expenses while losing income. It may be possible to obtain restitution for those losses through a claim made under the Jones Act since many people who work on vessels do not qualify for ordinary workers’ compensation benefits.