Nearly every worker here in Louisiana runs the risk of suffering injuries while on the job. One of the most often seen work-related accidents involves falls. Below are some of the most commonly seen injuries due to falls at work. For those who work the navigable waters surrounding the state, benefits for these and other injuries do not come from workers' compensation. Instead, some will qualify under the Longshore Harbor Workers' Compensation Act while others will qualify under the Jones Act.
The U.S. Armed Forces has installations all over the world, including here in Louisiana. Many civilians fill essential roles that support the soldiers stationed at them. Some civilians working on these installations would receive benefits under the Defense Base Act if injured at work, but not all. Benefits for those in a certain category would come from the Nonappropriated Fund Instrumentalities Act.
Some Louisiana residents make their living working out on the water, but not on navigable vessels. Instead, they work on oil platforms, which comes with numerous dangers. Even when a company takes safety on an offshore oil platform seriously, accidents still happen that cause injuries and take lives.
Louisiana residents who work in the shipping industry on the country's navigable waters are more than likely familiar with "bunker" fuel. Many freighters use this heavy fuel oil to power the engines. Unfortunately, this fuel can cause work-related illnesses such as asthma and other respiratory ailments that could cut a career short.
Even though Louisiana workers assume a certain amount of risk when they take a job at a dock or harbor, it does not release their employers from providing a safe work environment. In fact, state and federal law require it. This extends to the equipment used in order to perform their duties, including forklifts. Employers are responsible for making sure that forklift safety is a priority for everyone in order to avoid accidents that could lead to serious or fatal injuries.
That may seem like an obvious statement to anyone who works on Louisiana's shipyards, but that does not make it any less true. The fact of the matter is that riggers have a dangerous job. Nonetheless, it is an important part of a shipyard's daily operations.
Most Louisiana workers perform the same tasks repeatedly while on the job. The more repetitive those actions become, the higher the risk of suffering injuries due to repetitive stress. It may take some time for at least some of those workers to connect their pain to their work.
Louisiana dockworkers, oil rig workers and others may not realize that the amount of compensation varies that they can obtain for injuries suffered on the job. Each year, the U.S. Department of Labor must make adjustments to the benefits available under the Longshore and Harbor Workers' Compensation Act. These changes are made in order to ensure that those receiving compensation under the act obtain an amount that they can actually live on.
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.
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.