The mid-April capsizing of a lift boat in the Gulf of Mexico exemplifies the on-the-job dangers that offshore workers face daily. Those dangers may lead to serious injury and death. Workers struggle to recover, and families mourn when loved ones fail to return home after such tragedies.
In this incident, severe weather likely contributed to the capsizing of the Seacor Power lift boat that carried 19 people. Six people survived, six were confirmed dead and seven people remain missing and presumed dead after the incident 8 miles off the Louisiana coast from Port Fourchon. The offshore incident represents one of a few that are not uncommon.
Equipment, on-board and explosions
The April 13 incident involved a lift boat, which is three- or four-legged self-elevating and self-propelled vessel. It provides services, deck space and cranes for offshore rigs such as oil-drilling platforms.
Offshore accidents can happen in places that include offshore drilling rigs, tugboats and barges. Here are some of the more common such accidents:
- Equipment-related incidents and failures: Workers on drilling rigs operate complicated and bulky equipment. If not properly handled, the equipment may cause injuries or death, even knocking someone overboard or getting crushed. Tugboat workers, too, face similar challenges with winches and straps. Such injuries may lead to severed limbs.
- On-board accidents: Slips and falls or being struck by heavy loads or falling objects while on deck represent another job hazard, potentially leading to traumatic brain injury and spinal cord injuries. A fall overboard may lead to drowning, too.
- Chemical-related situations: Due to the nature of their jobs, offshore employees often work with dangerous and combustible materials. An accident may lead to fires and explosions, causing severe burns. Constant exposure to chemicals also may lead to respiratory ailments.
- Capsizing: As what occurred to the 175-foot-long Seacor Power, capsizing may lead to the deaths of many workers. Rough waters, extreme weather, mechanical failure and collisions can contribute to such incidents.
The investigation into the recent lift boat capsizing continues. Tragedies like that one remain difficult to comprehend, especially for the families of offshore workers. Negligence often is a contributing factor.