Jonathan H. Poznansky, Attorney at Law

Occupational hazards for dock and port workers

The Atlantic Ocean and the bays around Staten Island offer ample entertainment such as beach visits, water activities, ferry tours and more. They also provide locals, including New Jersey commuters, with plenty of employment opportunities at docks and ports.

While these jobs are good for those needing work, they are also very dangerous. Those who load and unload at docks and ports suffer from many occupational hazards that are eligible for workers' compensation.


Falls are a common workplace accident in all industries, but those in certain sectors have a higher risk. One of these, reports the CDC, is workers who are involved in moving materials. They may fall off ladders, docks or vehicles. They may also slip on a wet surface or trip over items and then fall. Likewise, loose objects may fall onto workers, striking or crushing them.

Dangerous machinery

Working at a dock or port requires using heavy machinery. Such equipment can malfunction, tip over or fall off a surface. Sometimes, vehicles pin or back into workers. It is imperative that machinery undergo routine maintenance, that drivers have help maneuvering around blind spots and that employees follow safety standards to avoid an accident.

Toxic substances

Whether through handling equipment or cargo, dock and port workers can come into contact with many toxic chemicals and fumes. This continual exposure can result in occupational diseases such as cancer. Similarly, workers experience dust and noise pollution that can damage lungs and hearing, respectively.


Naturally, being near the water increases the risk of drowning or nearly drowning. The likelihood increases with the consumption of alcohol, so workers should avoid drinking on the job. Doing so not only puts workers in danger of causing or getting into accidents but also of having more trouble securing workers' compensation benefits. Both state and federal laws regulate the maritime industry regarding safety and workers' comp claims.

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