Bulk dry goods, such as cement, iron ore, steel, quartz, fertilizers, sulfer, grain, and sugar are often considered dangerous cargo because they are shipped in large, bulk quantities that present hazardous risks when loading, unloading, and transporting. Special precautions must be taken to avoid injury and disaster.
Most Common Hazards Related to Bulk Cargo
There are many hazards related to shipping bulk cargo, but there are nine hazards that most commonly affect those working on shipping vessels.
- Cargo Shift: Grain is free flowing, and it can shift during transport in a way that makes the shipping vessel tip or roll to one side. The stability of the ship can be compromised and result in capsize.
- Falling Cargo: Loading and unloading heavy cargo such as steel, iron ore, and quartz is extremely dangerous for all those working on the deck of the ship. When these heavy pieces of cargo fall, workers can be crushed and suffer catastrophic injuries.
- Inhalation of Toxic Dust: Inhalation of dust particles can cause serious and often life-threatening illness. Tiny particles of toxic dust can become deeply imbedded in the lungs and respiratory systems of those working with bulk cargo causing cancer, mesothelioma, and other respiratory illness.
- Cargo Liquefaction: The rolling and wave motions of a ship can transform solid cargo into a fluid state when it is agitated during transport. Bulk cargo such as iron ore, nickel ore, and minerals can become so fine that they flow like a liquid, causing cargo shifting that affects the stability of the ship.
- Structural Damage: Damage to the structure of a ship can occur when bulk cargo exceeds the maximum amount of weight the ship can bear. Bending of the structural components can cause stability problems and result in capsize or sinking of the vessel.
- Oxygen Depletion: Bulk cargo such as paper pulp, wood, and agricultural products can suffer oxygen depletion and result in dangerous levels of carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, and hydrogen sulfide in unventilated areas.
- Corrosion: Coal and sulfur can corrode when exposed to moisture, which results in the release of sulfuric acid that can damage the ship’s structure. Dangerous levels of water can then enter the ship’s holds and put the vessel at risk for sinking.
- Contamination: If cargo holds are not properly cleaned and maintained, cargo can become contaminated. Contamination of materials can lead to chemical reactions that can create hazardous conditions for workers and can damage the ship’s structure.
- Fire: The oxidation process of materials being transported on a ship creates a high risk for fires. Coal, sulfur, cotton, and fishmeal can become combustible, causing sudden fires and explosions. A fire at sea can be one of the most dangerous situations for all those onboard.
Attention to safety precautions and proper handling of bulk cargo is needed to ensure the safety of all those onboard bulk cargo shipping vessels.
Cape May Maritime Accident Lawyers at Freedman & Lorry, P.C. Counsel and Represent Maritime Workers Injured on the Job
If you are a maritime worker who has been injured on the job, call the Cape May maritime accident lawyers at Freedman & Lorry, P.C. at 888-999-1962 or contact us online for a free consultation. Our Philadelphia, Cherry Hill, New Jersey, and Pinehurst, North Carolina offices serve clients throughout South Jersey, Gloucester, Cape May, and Wildwood.