Out of all the dangerous working conditions a maritime worker will encounter during their employment – rough seas, hazardous weather, etc – one of the most dangerous environments is right aboard their vessel.
The ship’s engine room is home to a variety of machinery and systems, all working together to keep the ship afloat and in motion. As anyone with experience working on engines of any size can tell you, these machines can be dangerous if operated improperly or without correctly implemented safety precautions. Chemicals can be spilled, machinery can malfunction, and workers can suffer serious injury or even death at the hands of the equipment in any given engine room without taking proper care.
We’ve taken a look at some of the most common engine room dangers and the injuries or accidents than can result:
Damage to the engine’s crankcase: Standard engine crankcases are designed to perform several roles such as pressurizing oil and circulating it through the engine, which means they’re made up of a dangerous combination of volatile chemicals and large moving parts. Between the presence of heat, oxygen, and a fuel source, the crankcase can be a very common source of catastrophic fire or even detonation if damaged or operated improperly. Make sure your crankcase is properly maintained and correctly used by any crewmember that comes in contact with it to prevent these accidents, or further damage.
Steam leakage: High-pressure steam lines work their way through the entire engine room to power-needed components of the engine (or the vessel itself), and these steam lines can be a major hazard if damaged or leaking. Joints can fail, lines can burst, and the steam they emit can be extremely dangerous or even fatal in many cases. Perform regular inspections of all steam-powered equipment and the lines carrying that steam to or from the machinery to prevent any possible leaks or injury.
Exposure to noise: Noise is a constant problem throughout many areas of a vessel, but the engine room is one of the highest concentrations of noise pollution. Long-term exposure to high-decibel sounds like those made in an engine room can lead to short-term, long-term, and even permanent hearing loss, as well as related issues such as stress, insomnia, and even cardiovascular disorders in extreme cases. During any engine room work, regardless of the reason your crew is in there, make sure proper hearing protection is provided to keep your workers as safe as possible from the extreme noise they’ll be facing.
Chemical spills and gas leaks: By virtue of its design, a vessel’s engine room is going to contain a wide variety of volatile chemicals and hazardous gases for a range of different needs such as CO2 for fire extinguishing, petroleum and oil to power the boat, and so on. Each of these chemicals needs to be handled correctly, stored safely, and inspected frequently to prevent any kind of leak, spill, or injury due to mishandled materials.
These are only a few of the most dangerous engine room hazards maritime workers will encounter. If you were injured while working in the engine room of a vessel, you need the maritime lawyers of O’Bryan Law.