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Two words that a ship’s crew never wants to hear

“Man overboard!” These words strike terror in the hearts of every maritime worker. The moment the alert is sounded, they quickly spring into action. Response time is crucial when performing a rescue for a crew member who has fallen overboard.

The truth is that falling overboard can happen at the dock or while the ship is sailing. That’s one of the reasons that ships are required to have personal flotation devices on board and within reach. In a dangerous situation, these can help in the effort to safely rescue the crew member who is in danger.

What can cause a crew member to fall overboard?

Some of the things that can cause a crew member to fall overboard include:

  • Slippery decks
  • Turbulent seas
  • Poor visibility
  • Being struck by an unsecured container or object on board
  • Bad weather conditions
  • Low gunwales (sides)
  • Falling or tripping hazards, such as a rope or chain
  • Equipment malfunctioning

Employers and boat owners should do all they can to reduce these risks, but accidents can still happen.

Getting wet may be the least of your worries

Some of the injuries that can occur when a crew member falls overboard include:

  • Concussions
  • Spinal injuries
  • Broken bones
  • Hypothermia
  • Drowning
  • Propellor injuries

When the rescue is complete, the crew member should be seen by a doctor. That way, their injuries can be assessed, and a treatment program can be assigned to them.

If you were injured because you fell overboard while working on a ship, you should look into your options for compensation to help with medical bills and damages.