Oil Rig in the Middle of the OceanRigging is a critical part of work on vessels and in shipyards, and it is vital for a wide variety of projects in the maritime industry. From loading equipment onto cargo ships to lifting the components or sections to create the vessels themselves, riggers make harbor work and seafaring ventures possible. Unfortunately, a rigging failure caused by negligence can have devastating consequences on nearby workers.

Common Injuries Suffered by Riggers and Maritime Employees

Given the wide range of things that can impact rigging safety, rigging accidents can come about in numerous ways. If negligent employers, shipowners, or manufacturers cut corners, rigging workers are placed at high risk of injury due to:

  • Struck-by-object accidents. Any load that is likely to swing or need guidance in transit should be secured by a tag line. If the load is not safely rigged before being hoisted, materials may swing out of control and into nearby workers.
  • Crushing accidents. Employees have been injured and killed beneath loads that have slipped from the rigging, or by becoming caught in between a swinging load and a fixed object.
  • Falls. Riggers may suffer falls while maneuvering loads on wet or slippery work surfaces, using ladders to guide or direct loads, or tripping over obstructions and bulkhead openings.
  • Electrical accidents. Electric shocks and electrocution may result from using hoisting equipment near live power lines, failing to ground power tools and equipment, or frayed electric cables.
  • Amputation injuries. Riggers may lose fingers, hands, or feet in pinch points or as loads shift during disconnecting techniques used to complete rigging tasks.

Determining the Cause of Your Maritime Rigging Injury

The most common causes of rigging injuries fall into two categories: failure of the equipment used in relation to the rigging work, and the practices and procedures performed during the actual lifting of materials. A skilled New York maritime attorney can examine the specifics of your accident to determine the exact cause of your injury and the legal options available to you.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has identified the biggest dangers during rigging tasks to be:

  • Site and height problems. Before loads or empty lifting gear are transported, the site must be clear of hazards such as overhead power lines, obstacles, and workers operating nearby.
  • Component failures. Cracked or defective pad eyes, worn and frayed slings, and bent hooks can all cause the sudden loss of a heavy load.
  • Failure to secure loads. Improper rigging of a load can be avoided if employees are familiar with the various and correct rigging techniques and have the appropriate equipment for the job being performed.
  • Worn or damaged equipment. Cranes, hoists, lifts, and other material handling equipment should be inspected regularly to prevent sudden failure. 
  • Training failures. Workers should not only understand and recognize the safety hazards associated with rigging work, they must have appropriate training and qualifications before perform rigging tasks.
  • Poor surface conditions. Uneven, obstruction-filled, or slippery surfaces could create significant risks for workers performing rigging tasks. The crane must be resting on ground that is level and firm enough to support the crane and load. The site where the load will be set would be cleared of any unnecessary personnel, equipment, or other obstructions.
  • Ignoring potential hazards. Workers should be instructed to stop any rigging jobs immediately if and when a potentially unsafe condition arises.
  • Overloading. Employees should be aware of the lifting limitations of gear and hoisting devices. Loading materials beyond the rated capacities of the equipment can cause the hoist line to part, the rigging gear to fail, or pull the crane over.

If you have been involved in a maritime accident, our Jones Act injury attorneys can perform a full investigation to determine who was at fault. Simply fill out our quick online contact form or call (800) 362-9329 to speak with a lawyer at Hofmann & Schweitzer today, or read through our FREE brochure, Hurt in a Construction Accident? You’re Not Alone.


Paul T. Hofmann
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Focused on personal injury, with an emphasis on maritime, railroad and construction worker tort claims.