Top Causes of Maritime Accidents in Alaska


Every day, more than 70,000 individuals working for over 500 companies head to work in Alaska’s maritime industry – the largest private employment sector in the state, according to a report from the Alaska Fisheries, Seafood, and Marine Industry Sectors. Working in this field can be lucrative and rewarding, but workplace conditions and the nature of the environment means that accidents and injuries are common. Depending on the position, almost every employee in the maritime industry frequently encounters extreme dangers as part of the job.

You have rights as an injured maritime employee, though the specifics vary based upon whether you were hurt because of unavoidable circumstances or through negligence by your employer. You can count on an Alaska maritime accidents lawyer to handle the details. Some background information may be useful.


How Maritime Accidents Happen

In a workplace environment that involves loading and unloading cargo, vessel maintenance and repair, and moving vehicles – all in close proximity to docks, piers, and water – injury-causing accidents are common. Some of the most common incidents include:

  • Slips, Trips, and Falls: Any active port can be dangerous because of uneven, wet, and slippery surfaces. In Alaska, weather conditions may make the workspace even more treacherous. Snow, sleet, fog, and other factors increase the likelihood of workers slipping, tripping, and falling. Plus, there can be considerable clutter around docks and loading zones, with shipping crates, moving vehicles, and heavy equipment posing potential threats. Falling overboard, whether from a vessel or a pier, is also a looming threat. Drowning, hypothermia and death can occur within minutes, but getting caught between vessels can lead to catastrophic injuries.
  • Working in Enclosed Spaces: Many employees in the maritime industry work in small, enclosed spaces where airflow is limited. Toxic, caustic fumes can linger in ship storage areas, cargo space, lockers, and narrow passageways. When they inhale these air-borne substances, workers are at risk of asphyxia and poisoning. Occupational diseases can also develop from prolonged exposure.
  • Chemical Burns: Operations in the engine room and galley – i.e., the kitchen on the ship – involve many hazardous materials that can cause burns for workers who come into contact with them or are otherwise exposed. Sources of accidents may include hot oil, electronics, high voltage, and others.
  • Violent and Criminal Activities: While most passenger areas at ports are safe and companies aim to provide proper security, they may fail to implement proper measures in the spaces where employees are working. Employers must take precautions to guard against assault, attacks, and other violent, criminal misconduct directed at their workers. Examples include hiring security guards, as well as installing cameras, automatic locking doors, sufficient fencing, and gates.


An Alaska Maritime Accidents Attorney can Explain Your Rights

Various maritime statutes protect maritime workers in the event of an accident and injury, including Alaska’s workers’ comp laws and the federal Jones Act. To learn more about your legal rights and the benefits to which you may be entitled, please contact Power & Power Law in Anchorage, Alaska to set up a free consultation.