Unsafe Hatch on Container Ship Causes Serious Injuries

Joseph O'Neill

Written by
— Updated on October 5, 2017

Marine Safety Expert WitnessThis boating safety case takes place in Texas and involves a man who was severely injured after falling through a trap door while aboard an ocean container ship. The man was working as a machinist in the shipping industry, which was en rout to the United States following its departure from a seaport in China. The hatch had a trap door that was allegedly left open by an unknown member of the crew. The door was unmarked and nondescript, had no barriers to prevent an accident of this nature, and there were no toe boards in place. The man suffered injuries to his arms that have prevented him from working, causing a great deal of emotional and financial hardship.

Question(s) For Expert Witness

  • 1. Do you extensive knowledge of the proper safety mechanisms that should be set in place on cargo ships to prevent injuries?
  • 2. Please explain the signs and safety features that a hatch (trap door) should include to prevent injury.
  • 3. Have you ever reviewed a similar maritime safety case? Please explain.

Expert Witness Response E-009923

I am happy to review this case. I have extensive knowledge of the proper safety mechanisms that should be put in put to prevent injuries on cargo ships. There should have been proper signage around this door. If not that, there should have been a person present to guard the door to ensure that no one inadvertently stepped into it. From a systems or organizational perspective, there should be a policy or procedure in order to uphold industry standards. I have 35 years of experience as a safety engineer and specific experience working in the maritime and oil industry. I am glad to discuss further and be of assistance.

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