This case involves a man who was employed as a chef in the galley of a large cruise ship. In the course of his employment, the man needed to reach for canned foods that were located on a high shelf in the pantry. The man was fairly short, and was unable to reach up to the shelf in question. Nevertheless, he was not given a stool or ladder to help him reach the shelf. This forced the man to jump in order to reach the cans. On one occasion, the man jumped to reach for one of the cans and landed awkwardly, causing a serious fracture in his ankle.
Question(s) For Expert Witness
- 1. Please describe your experience in cruise ship employee safety.
- 2. What are the safety standards that should be in place to prevent incidents like this from happening?
- 3. Are you familiar with the Jones Act?
Expert Witness Response E-008055
My Cruise Ship Safety experience includes service as Safety Manager aboard Norwegian Cruise Lines (NCLA) vessels operating between the Hawaiian Islands, as well as over 20 years of related Maritime Safety expertise. I am very familiar with the Jones Act and have written published articles about it. Based upon your exploration of “Jones Act” applicability, I would explore proper Safety Familiarization for the injured person as well as for all his associates, and proper Supervisory training for any supervisory staff involved. I would also explore proper compliance with International Safety Management with respect to training for repetitive and “job specific” tasks. I would explore the compliance under ISM for reporting of incidents, near misses and any related non-conformities. I would need to review training records and time in service for not only the victim, but also supervisory staff and associates, as well as the required Policies and Procedures mandated under ISM for all the duties for wait staff and their supervisors. I would also want to review existing conditions, including but not limited to, weather, maintenance of operational and safety equipment, safeguards in place, and the Incident reports for staff response and medical attention (if any) provided post-incident. The Safety Standards that should have been in place would be all USCG regulations under 46 CFR and 33 CFR, Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS).
Expert Witness Response E-008094
In my career as a Merchant Marine Officer, I have served as Safety Officer aboard cruise and passenger ships. One responsibility was a monthly sanitary and safety inspection around the ship, in which I conducted “job safety analyses”. This involved observing workers from all departments perform their jobs and noting the use of personal protective equipment, if required, how they conducted that job, and any hazards associated with that task. An employee should not have a working condition where they have to jump in order to get the supplies they need. This in itself creates an unsafe situation. The decks of a ship, particularly in a galley or food service area, can often be wet and slippery, and the motion of a vessel in a seaway could create a dynamic and unstable environment on which to stand. The cruise line should have recognized the hazard of having items stored above the head of employees, and they should have taken action to mitigate the situation by providing a stool or step ladder to reach the items, or by stowing those items at a level which did not create a hazard to the employee. The great majority of my career I served on ships covered by the Jones Act. Under the Jones Act, the company has a higher level of responsibility regarding the safety and well-being of the crew. It also holds the employer liable for “any injury” arising in whole or in part from the negligence of any of the officers, agents or employees of the employer.