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How Is A Maritime Construction Accident Defined?

A maritime construction accident would generally be considered any type of accident where the individual performing the construction was either working on or over the water.

Workers in maritime construction include bridge workers, dock workers, dockbuilder, workers doing pier renovation or reconstruction and even people who work on things like float stages, barges or different types of planks that are just floating in the water. The person could also be considered a maritime construction worker if they were working on a bridge by working with lines so they were hanging over the water while working.

Maritime construction basically includes any type of construction where the construction worker is subjected to the risk of working over water. The tests typically involve “Situs and Status”, meaning whether the construction worker was a traditional maritime employee such as a bridge worker or dock builder or pier renovation worker, and then situs meaning where they were working, meaning whether they were actually working on water or above the water, because that is the sort of thing that is considered as maritime construction.

In short, any type of construction or excavation activity which was being performed in a river, the oceans or lakes, including shoring is classified as maritime construction. Maritime construction in New York is basically considered to be any construction that occurs either over water or on the water’s edge.

How Common Are Maritime Construction Accidents?

Maritime construction accidents are very common in New York because we have a lot of bridge projects going on along the Hudson River and the East River. The Tappan Zee Bridge, is a big bridge that connects the Rockland and Westchester County and they are tearing down the old bridge and building a new bridge to connect Westchester and Rockland Counties in New York.

There are also a lot of waterfront projects in New York City, including the West side of Manhattan and along the Brooklyn waterfront, and a lot of the old piers are being renovated and repurposed, so there is a lot of marine construction going on in New York City. There is also a lot of shoring and sheeting projects.

There are certain hazards that are typically associated with doing any type of construction work and those hazards and dangers are increased when construction work is done on water because the construction worker is on a surface that is constantly moving with the tide, and as the current goes in and out, waves cause the work platform or barge which the construction worker is standing on to basically move constantly.

Certain things are dangerous anyway, like using chainsaws, lifting heavy objects, pilings of lumber and doing pier demolition, but the risk of an accident are dramatically increased if these activities ae being done on a surface that is continuously moving and constantly exposed to water, which increases the chance of a slip and fall accident.

Which Maritime Construction Accidents Occur More Often Than Others?

Anyone working on water is at risk for having a maritime construction accident. A lot of the construction accidents our New York City maritime construction lawyers have seen involve situations where companies cut corners. The maritime construction industry has evolved to counter act some of the dangers in maritime construction. For example industry standards require non-skid coating to be placed on walking surfaces to prevent slipping, hanging ladders and life lines to be used when workers have to climb up or down sheeting or excavations, so they don’t fall. Our New York City construction lawyers have successfully handled many cases where workers were working on float stages or work barges, but then slipped and fell because the float stage did not have the proper non-skid coating, as well as cases where construction workers fell while climbing down sheeting or shoring or an excavation. Another common type of maritime accident is where certain types of materials were being dug into the ground or something was being lowered and it swayed with the currents or with the wind because it was not properly stabilized, and then it hit somebody. Our construction accident attorneys have also seen many cases where materials or debris is being hauled with a crane and a worker is struck because a tag line wasn’t attached. All of these situations involve violations of New York’s Labor Laws.

How Important Is Non-Skid Coating In Preventing Maritime Accidents?

Sometimes accidents occur when for example, someone is just walking on a plank or work barge or they are working on a barge but the surface does not have a proper non-skid coating so the person slipped, fell and got hurt. These surfaces are always exposed to water, so it is foreseeable that they are going to get wet.

It has been an accepted maritime practice for about 30 years now to put non-skid coating, which is basically paint with either sand or rock or any other kind of abrasive material woven into the paint. This non-skid coating gives a good grip because it is foreseeable that maritime surfaces would usually be wet and therefore they would often get slippery.

In New York, Maritime construction workers often have to work with oil for the machinery or chainsaws or drills which could also fall on the deck of a barge or a work platform or floating stage platform. These platforms would need to have the proper non-skid coating to be suitable in accordance with good and accepted maritime practice.

For more information on Maritime Construction Accidents, a free initial consultation is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you’re seeking by calling (212) 858-0503 today.

The Law Offices of Michael H. Joseph