The Dangers of Maritime Shipbuilding, Ship Repair and Ship Breaking

Shipbuilding is the construction of vessels which often occurs in shipyards or other marine equipment manufacturing facilities.  Those who build ships are called shipwrights, shipbuilders, naval engineers, or boat builders.  Ship breaking is the tearing down of a previously-used vessel.  Globally the shipbuilding industry’s largest country is South Korea, which in 2008 produced more vessels than the rest of the world combined.


Before seamen can work offshore and before dock workers have cargo to load and unload, vessels must be put together.  Today’s modern ships are built almost exclusively of welded steel.  A trained naval architect will assist in designing and building merchant ships, such as oil tankers, cargo ships, and container ships, offshore drilling platforms, barges, fishing boats, tug boats, and other offshore structures.

Dangers of Shipbuilding:

Asbestos Diseases: Asbestos has been used in shipbuilding for decades. Many shipbuilding facilities were built years before the dangerous of asbestos exposure were known.  Therefore, many shipbuilders, ship breakers and even ship repairmen do not realize they have been exposed to the dangerous material.  Furthermore, asbestos related diseases, such as asbestosis and mesothelioma, may not show up for decades after exposure.

Back Injuries: Shipbuilders often work in cramped spaces which can cause musculoskeletal problems, and lead to back injuries.  Maritime workers are at a higher risk for back injuries due to the nature of their jobs.  There are many ergonomically related risk factors for shipyard employees such as force, repetition, contact stress, vibration and cold temperatures.  OSHA recommends better training of employees, setting a proper maximum lifting weight, encouraging the use of mechanical devices to assist workers, using better lighting in work areas, and proper posture.

Welding Injuries: Welders make up a huge percentage of those who work in ship construction and injuries associated with welding are common.  The burning of metal is dangerous, and the injuries can be serious.  Burns, eye injuries, and exposure to various gases and fumes.  Safety equipment and protective clothing are crucial to the safety of workers who weld and those who work near them.


If you are an injured ship builder, ship breaker, or work in vessel repair, maritime accident lawyers may be able to help you recover damages for your injuries.

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