Stairs and Ladders
Stairs and ladders are frequent sites of serious and permanent injuries to seamen and fishermen working aboard boats at sea. Improperly constructed, designed or maintained ships’ steps can lead to a career-ending injury. When a crewman has been injured by stairs or a ladder that are unseaworthy or which have been negligently designed or maintained, a seaman has rights to compensation under Federal maritime law.
Maritime injury lawyer James Beard has been representing crewmen and commercial fishermen in injury claims involving ship’s stairs, ladders, and portable ladders for nearly 30 years. If you have suffered a serious injury in a slip and fall down a ship or fishing boat’s stairs, call Beard to discuss your claim. Don’t accept blame for an injury on stairs or a ladder that were improperly designed or not reasonably safe. Beard understands how ladder and stair accidents happen aboard ships. He knows the industry safety standards that ships should use.
All seamen should be trained in proper safety as it pertains to ships’ stairs, ladders, and portable ladders. Safety procedures that are routinely ignored or not enforced are no better than having no safety procedures at all.
Stairs on ships should be constructed to proper safety standards which set the height, width and angle necessary for safety. Ships’ stairs should have properly maintained non-slip surfaces, with red or yellow stripes on the lip of each step. Handrails should be present on both sides of the stairway and should extend above and below the tops and bottom of the stairs.
Wet stairs and stairs with oil, grease or fish slime on them are an accident waiting to happen. Crewmen should not be assigned tasks which require them to lift and carry loads up and down stairs. Three points of contact should be maintained with the stairs at all possible times.
When portable ladders are used aboard ships, the ladder should be tied off at the top and a spotter assigned to steady and hold the bottom of the ladder. Bent or warped ladders should never be used. Ladders with broken rungs should be discarded. The feet on the bottom of the ladder should be undamaged and in good repair. Ladders should extend three feet beyond the top of the surface to be accessed. As a general safety guideline relating to the angle of a ladder, for every four feet up a ladder is extended, the base should be moved one foot out. Special caution is warranted when ladders will be used on slippery or unstable surfaces.
Ladder and stair injury accidents aboard ships can lead to permanent injuries. You have a right to claim compensation for your injuries. Your employer, in almost all cases, must pay your reasonable and necessary medical bills. If the stairs or ladders were not reasonably safe, then you may claim damages for pain and suffering, lost wages, lost wage earning capacity, and medical expenses.
The vessel owner and your employer owe you a duty under Federal maritime law to provide you a safe place to work. This means that ladders and stairs should be properly constructed and maintained; unsafe ladders and stairs should be replaced. As an injured seaman, Federal law gives you a right to claim reasonable compensation for your injuries when you have been injured in a slip and fall down stairs or while using an unsafe ladder.