The shipping industry is a huge part of the Los Angeles economy. Many workers in this area depend on the ports as their source of income. Companies that hire these workers take steps to ensure that the working conditions are as safe as possible but all risks are impossible to eliminate.
Workers who are heading to the jobsite should make sure that they are aware of the hazards they face. Some are easy to spot, but others are more hidden.
Heavy machinery and containers
The machines used in ports must be operated safely. Workers can suffer from crushing or caught in/between injuries if the operators aren’t handling them carefully. Using spotters can help with this, as can having workers wear bright colors.
Another issue is the large containers to ship goods. These are often very heavy and must be handled carefully. A stack of falling shipping containers can easily kill a worker. Even if only one container falls, workers can be crushed.
Fire, explosion, high pressure
Mooring lines are often under great pressure. They can snap, which makes them a flying projectile that can cause death or traumatic amputations. Electricity and water don’t mix, but both are present at shipping ports. This increases the risk of a worker suffering from electrocution. Fires are also possible, which can lead to severe burns.
Chemicals and other substances
Shipyards come with a risk of being exposed to chemicals. Asbestos is sometimes used in the manufacturing of ships, which means workers are at risk of exposure that might lead to mesothelioma. Fumigants like methyl bromide might be present when shipping containers are opened. This can lead to workers inhaling chemicals when containers are opened for inspection or if they are breached in any manner.
Workers face the risk of sunburns throughout the year, even when it is cloudy. Lightning and storms pose risks of electrocution and slipping on the wet surface. Dehydration and heat exhaustion are potential issues all year long. Even during the cooler months of the year in Los Angeles, these might be issues due to workers using protective gear that hold in heat and lead to sweating.
Any port worker injured on the job may face serious challenges. They might have extensive medical care needs and may need to take time off work while they heal. In severe cases, these workers may not be able to return to work and could end up having to rely on Social Security Disability for an income.