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Why is underwater welding so dangerous?

Underwater welders possess unique skills that keep them in high demand on the most difficult job sites, like repairing offshore oil rigs or pipelines. While this may be a lucrative career for many, it’s not without its perils.

Why is underwater welding so dangerous? According to the U.S. Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA), underwater workers risk multiple serious injuries, from diving and surfacing to the actual work. Fatalities are high, and even a non-fatal injury has the potential to change your life forever.

Suppose you’re an underwater welder who was injured in the line of work or you lost a loved one due to an underwater welding accident. In that case, a Houston maritime injury lawyer can help you learn about your legal options and assert your rights.

What are the dangers of underwater welding?

The job is inherently hazardous. Combining the oxygen tank needed for SCUBA diving with the flame and other tools required for welding is risky. Underwater welders face multiple hazards in their line of work, including:

  • Electric shock – This is the greatest (albeit rarest) danger to underwater welders and is often lethal. Welders must use special waterproof equipment on all jobs. This equipment should be tested frequently and inspected for damage that could pose a safety risk.
  • Explosions from gas pockets – Underwater welding produces pockets of hydrogen and oxygen, which can prove fatally explosive if combined at high levels. 
  • Decompression illness (DCI) – DCI comprises two conditions, decompression sickness (DCS) and arterial gas embolism (AGE). Both conditions occur when divers (any divers, not just welders) experience a reduction in ambient pressure while moving between different pressure zones underwater. Decompression sickness can be fatal depending on how long the diver was subjected to the pressures.
  • Ear, nose, and lung damage – Underwater welding happens in high-pressure water; long-term nose, ear, and lung damage can occur over time.

Underwater welding injuries can change your life

Injuries from underwater welding can be life-threatening. Help is often far away, yet prompt medical attention is crucial. Some of the most common injuries underwater welders suffer include:

  • Burns, including electrical burns
  • Drowning or lung damage from water
  • Mesothelioma or other cancers or long-term illnesses
  • Crushing injuries
  • Internal organ damage

The mental trauma of an accident underscores how dangerous underwater welding is. Many injured welders may need extensive psychotherapy treatment, in addition to physical care, after an accident. The emotional struggle many welders face afterward, especially if they’re scarred or permanently disabled, cannot be overlooked. 

You’re entitled to compensation for pain and suffering and medical care.

What laws cover underwater welding injuries?

If you’ve been injured as an underwater welder, you may be eligible for compensation for your medical needs and other losses. Underwater welders may be covered under one of several state and federal laws. Which laws apply depends on where the incident happened (how far offshore it was) and your job classification.

The Jones Act

You may be covered under The Jones Act, which allows you to file a lawsuit for compensatory damages against your employer or another at-fault party. It applies to seamen injured while working offshore. 

Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act

Alternatively, you may have coverage under the Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act (LHWCA), which covers people engaged in traditional maritime work, like harbor and offshore construction.

Other legal options

Your employer may carry Texas workers’ compensation insurance. However, it’s not mandatory in the Lone Star State unless the company works with the government (and in a few other situations). If they do have it, you may file for benefits.

Depending on the situation, you may also file a third-party lawsuit against another party who may have contributed to the accident, like a subcontractor, vendor, or manufacturer of defective equipment. 

Our lawyers can advise whether you qualify for workers’ compensation and which laws apply to your injury and situation.

Underwater welding accident? We are here to help.

Although underwater welding is one of the most lucrative and growing maritime careers, it’s also one of the most dangerous. Even with strict safety measures and professional training, you take a risk each time you dive. 

If you’re an underwater welder injured at sea, call (713) 955-2215 to speak with experienced Houston maritime injury attorneys at Havens & Associates. We can schedule a free consultation to discuss your legal options. 

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