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UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF LABOR
Lewis B. Schwellenbach, Secretary
BUREAU OF LABOR STATISTICS
Isador Lubin, Commissioner (on leave)
A . F. H inrichs, Acting Commissioner

Fatal W o rk Injuries in Shipyards
1943 and 1944

B ulletin 7sJo. 839

For sale by the Superintendent o f Documents, U. S. Government Printing Office
Washington 25, D. C.
Price 10 cents




Letter o f Transmittal
U n it e d S t a t e s D e p a r t m e n t o p L a b o r ,
B u r e a u o f L a b o r S t a t is t ic s ,

Washington, D. C., July 16, 1945.
The S e c r e t a r y o p L a b o r :
I have the honor to submit herewith a report on fatal work injuries in ship­
yards in 1943 and 1944. The information contained herein is based on informa­
tion submitted by shipyards as a part of the Program of Safety and Industrial
Health in Contract Shipyards, sponsored by the U. S. Maritime Commission
and the U. S. Navy Department. This report was prepared in the Bureau’s
Industrial Hazards Division by Frank S. McElroy and George R. McCormack.
A. F. H i n r i c h s , Acting Commissioner.
H o n . L. B. S c h w e l l e n b a c h ,
Secretary of Labor.

Contents
Page




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3
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M O

Summary________________________________
Kind of injuries sustained________________
Accident type...................................................
Unsafe working conditions________________
Unsafe acts______________________________
Fatalities, by occupation of injured worker.

Bulletin 7s[o. 839 o f the
U nited States Bureau o f Labor Statistics
IKeprinted from the M onthly L ab or R e v iew , July 1945, with additional data]

Fatal Work Injuries in Shipyards, 1943 and 1944
Sum m ary

On the basis of shipyard accident reports submitted as a part of
the Program of Safety and Industrial Health in Contract Shipyards,
sponsored by the U. S. Maritime Commission and the U. S. Navy
Department, it is estimated that about 700 employees of private ship­
yards died as a result of injuries experienced in the course of their work
during the years of 1943 and 1944.
In comparison with the estimated volume of 173,000 nonfatal dis­
abling injuries experienced by shipyard workers in the same period,
the number of fatalities is small. Because of their seriousness, how­
ever, fatal accidents are significant to a degree far exceeding their
numbers, and for this reason are deserving of particular study for the
purpose of determining what specific measures can be taken to prevent
the recurrence of similar accidents.
For many of the fatal accidents full details are lacking, but reports
have been submitted describing in some detail the circumstances
connected with 655 occupational deaths. It is immediately apparent
In reviewing these case histories that fatal and nonfatal accidents fall
into very similar patterns, and that the differences in the severity of
the injuries incurred are due largely to chance. This observation
supports the basic theory of all scientific accident prevention, that
the proper approach to safety is to attempt to prevent all accidents
regardless of their probable consequences. There are, however, some
significant differences in the patterns formed by the fatal and nonfatal
accidents, which should be of importance in planning shipyard safety
programs.
It seems particularly important that falls from one level to another
were responsible for more shipyard fatalities than were ascribed to
any other single accident type. Fully 39 percent of all the reported
fatalities resulted from such falls, and more than half of these falls
were from scaffolds, stagings, and other working surfaces.
“ Struck-by” accidents were the second most prolific producers of
fatalities. Nearly a fourth of the reported fatal accidents were of
this type. In almost half of these accidents the specific agency inrolved was a crane or a crane load. Motor vehicles, including strad­
dle-trucks, were the agencies next most commonly involved. Material
defects within the agencies caused many of these accidents, particularly
those involving cranes. In the greater number of cases, however, the
unsafe conditions which contributed to the accidents were created
through misuse of the agencies, such as rigging loads improperly,




(l)

2

overloading, operating at unsafe speed, or standing, walking, or
working within range of the moving cranes or vehicles.
Contact with electric current has not been one of the outstanding
sources of shipyard injuries indicated in any previous studies based
upon an analysis of all disabling injuries. It ranked third, however,
among the types of accidents which resulted in fatalities. Seventytwo of the reported fatalities were the result of contact with electricity.
Sixty-nine of these were electrocutions and the other three were cases
of burns produced by electric flashes. Defective grounds or broken
wiring in machines, powered hand tools, and other electric equipment
were responsible for many of these accidents. The failure to under­
stand or to respect the hazard involved in the seemingly simple act
of replacing broken light bulbs while standing upon a grounded steel
hull led to 10 of the 72 reported fatalities.
In the broad analysis of the fundamental causes of the accidents
which resulted in fatalities, the most striking fact is that extremely
few of the accidents were attributed to the lack of or the failure to
use proper personal safety equipment. In view of the relatively large
volume of nonfatal injuries attributed to these causes, this is rather
surprising. In other respects, however, the cause pattern of the fatal­
ities was quite similar to that of the nonfatal accidents.
Among the various categories of unsafe working conditions which
led to the occurrence of fatal accidents, the most prominent was that
of defective agencies. These defective agencies included a very wide
variety of materials and equipment. Most important from the stand­
point of the volume of fatalities for which they were responsible, how­
ever, were improperly rigged crane loads, defective hand tools, defective
scaffolds or staging, defective machines, and defective electrical
apparatus.
Hazardous arrangements and procedures, primarily in respect to
the operation of hoisting apparatus and vehicles, were the second
most important group of unsafe working conditions directly connected
with the occurrence of fatal accidents, while improperly guarded
agencies held third place. The great majority of the improperly
guarded agencies were scaffolds, stagings, and other elevated working
surfaces, and most of the accidents attributed to these conditions were
falls.
Among the various categories of unsafe acts which contributed to
the occurrence of fatal accidents, that of unnecessarily assuming an
unsafe position was outstanding. Specifically, the most common of
the unsafe acts in this general group were standing or working in the
way of moving cranes, crane loads, or vehicles; approaching too close
to deck openings or to the edge of elevated surfaces; and misusing
scaffolds or stagings, particularly, jumping from one surface to another
or climbing on the supporting framework.
Some fatalities occurred in practically every occupational group
of shipyard workers. In proportion to the number of workers in the
craft and in actual numbers, however, there were more fatalities
among riggers than in any other occupational group. About 15
percent of the workers reported killed were riggers, 12 percent were
welders, and 10 percent were shipwrights.




3
K in d o f Injuries Sustained

Over 45 percent of the injuries reported as resulting in fatalities
were fractures. Another 12 percent were simply described as “ crush­
ing” injuries. Many of the injuries reported as crushed heads, chests,
and pelvic regions were, no doubt, also fracture cases. Electrocutions
accounted for 13 percent of the fatal injuries, burns and scalds for
9 percent, and drowning for 7 percent.
Almost 38 percent of the reported fatalities resulted from head
injuries. Three-fourths of these were skull fractures. In addition,
there were 14 fatalities which were described as “ crushed head.”
About one-fourth of the fatalities resulted from trunk injuries.
Fractured vertebrae, ribs, hips, or pelvic bones were most common,
although crushing injuries were numerous. Death resulted more
frequently from injuries to the abdomen than from injuries to any
other part of the trunk. Contusions or bruises led to 8 fatalities;
6 of these were abdominal injuries. All of the 7 cases described as
strains or sprains of the trunk were abdominal cases; in 3 of these
death occurred in the course of surgery to correct a hernia.
Fatal injuries involving the upper or lower extremities were com­
paratively infrequent; injuries to legs, feet, or toes accounted for
approximately 4 percent of the fatalities and injuries to arms, hands,
or fingers for a little more than 1 percent.
Some injuries were not confined to particular members of the body
but were more or less general in extent; these have been classified as
“ body general.” About one-third of the*fatal work injuries fell in
this group. These included electrocutions, which caused 69 fatali­
ties; drownings, 38 fatalities; and 42 cases of death as a result of
extensive burns or scalds.
Accident T yp e

More fatal injuries resulted from falls than from any other type
of accident and practically all of these falls were from one level to
another. Although falls to a lower level produced only 12 percent
of all disabling injuries reported by shipyards during 1943 and 13
percent in 1944, 39 percent of the fatalities reported during the 2-year
period 1943-44 were due to this type of accident, indicating that,
although falls are not so common as some other accident types, they
are much more likely to result in serious injury.
Fatalities from falls.—Over half of the fatal falls were falls from
working surfaces. Of the 251 deaths resulting from falls to a lower
level, 129 were falls from working surfaces and, of this group, 86 were
falls from stagings or platforms. Twelve additional workers were
killed when they fell from stagings or platforms upon which they were
walking or climbing.
Falls from cranes or crane loads were responsible for 16 fatalities.
In 4 of these cases, the injured employee was riding the crane load
and in 2 others the worker stood on the load as it was being moved
from, or to, its resting place. Ten men were killed when they fell
from crane ladders, cabs, or platforms.
Sixteen employees sustained fatal injuries when they fell from
ladders and 20 lost their lives as a result of falls from vehicles. Of
this latter group, 13 were falls from water craft, 4 were falls from




4
trucks, 2 were falls from trailers, and 1 was a fall from a railroad car.
Falls from stairs caused 4 fatalities.
Although not the direct cause of death, falls on the same level
contributed to 10 fatal work injuries. Two men fell into the watar
and drowned. A third injury in this group occurred to a chipper who
fell on his lunch bucket and suffered a contused chest and a ruptured
spleen. A female pipefitter’s helper sustained a similar injury when
she fell on a wet deck. In another case an electrician’s helper fell
to the pavement when a pipe, which he was using as a lever, broken
He died as a result of a cerebral hemorrhage. Three other workers
died from tumors or other complications resulting from this type of
fall. In still another case, the trousers of a shipfitter caught on a
projecting stud bolt. In an attempt to keep himself from falling the
worker grabbed and pulled a fellow employee on top of him as he fell.
The weight of the second man caused a brain concussion to the first,
resulting in his death.
“ Struck by” accidents.— The second largest group of fatal accidents
involved employees’ being struck by moving objects. Accidents of
this type caused 157, or about one-fourth of the reported fatal injuries.
Fifty-one employees were killed when they were struck by moving
crane loads. Secure and proper fastening of the load, regular inspec­
tion of cranes, and sufficient clearance for the movement of the load
would have prevented practically all of these injuries. Another 2!'t
employees were killed when they were struck by other moving parts
of cranes. Moving vehicles struck and killed 24 employees. Trucks,
busses, or automobiles were involved in 16 of these deaths, straddletrucks in 5, and locomotives in 3. Five men were killed when they
were struck by kick-backs from saws, and 2 others were struck by
parts of exploding grinding wheels.
Contact with electric current— Contact with electric current resulted in
death for 72 shipyard workers Ten workers were electrocuted when they
accidentally touched the filaments in broken light bulbs, and 2 others
were killed while using defective extension cords. Nine workers were
electrocuted while working on or near live circuits, and 12 sustained
similar injuries while working on control panels or switches. Hand
fools were involved in 13 electrocutions; welding tools were the agen­
cies in 8 of these cases, and drills were involved in 5. Defective
grounds led to 9 of the 12 fatalities associated with the use of ma­
chines. Eight men were electrocuted while working on or standing
near cranes. In 7 of these cases the crane came into contact with
overhead power lines; in the other a maintenance man was electrocuted
while repairing a crane on which the power had not been shut off.
“ Caught in, on, or between” accidents.— About 10 percent of the
leported fatalities were caused by employees’ being caught in, on, or
between objects. Crushing injuries were sustained by 34 shipyard
workers when they were caught between cranes and other objects,
the crane load being the crushing agency in 14 of these cases. Four­
teen additional workers were killed when they were caught in, on, or
between vehicles.
Miscellaneous types.— Thirty-seven employees lost their lives in
explosions. Thirteen of these workers were killed in one accident
when a gasoline barge exploded. Seven men were killed in explosions
of acetylene equipment.




5
Fire or flames caused the deaths of 29 workers; live steam or hot
water, 5; and heat exhaustion, 2.
Accidents involving inhalation, absorption, or ingestion caused the
deaths of 10 workers. Welding or burning fumes were reported as
responsible for 5 of these fatalities, and carbon tetrachloride fumes for
2. One man was drowned as he attempted to free debris from a propellor, another was suffocated when he failed to leave a ship which
was being fumigated with hydrocyanic acid, and a third was asphyxi­
ated when a bottle of carbon dioxide was broken.
Unsafe W orking Conditions

Defective equipment, hazardous arrangement or procedure, and
unguarded, or inadequately guarded equipment caused practically all
of the 463 fatal accidents in which an unsafe working condition was
known to exist. Defective equipment was responsible for over onethird of the accidents, hazardous arrangement or procedure for over
one-fourth, and inadequately guarded agencies for about one-fifth.
Defective equipment.—Defective scaffolds, stagings, or catwalks were
responsible for accidents resulting in 23 of the reported fatalities.
Four of these deaths resulted when workers leaned against insecure
backrails which parted under the pressure and allowed the workers to
fall. Loose planks which tipped or turned when stepped upon dropped
5 workers to their deaths, and another employee was killed when he
was struck by a plank dislodged from an overhead staging.
Accidents involving defective cranes or crane parts led to 42
fatalities, 32 of which were specifically associated with defective slings
or sling loads. Fourteen men were killed when the loads, or part of
the loads, dropped from the hooks or cables because of defective
rigging, and 10 others were killed when the lifting chain or cable
parted.
Accidents involving defective hand tools were responsible for 26
fatalities. Thirteen of these workers were killed by fires or explosions
attr ibuted to gas leaks in burners’ torches. Three welders were elec­
trocuted by coming into contact with defective welding tools, and 5
other electrocutions were ascribed to defective wiring in portable
drills. One man was killed by parts from an exploding grinding wheel.
Twelve of the 18 fatalities associated with defective machines re­
sulted because of electrical short circuits in the machines. Ten
workers were killed in accidents involving defective electric extension
cords.
Hazardous arrangement or procedure.— Accidents involving inade­
quate planning for the use of cranes led to 58 of the reported fatalities.
Insufficient clearance in the operation caused 27 fatal injuries.
Seventeen of these occurred when employees were caught between
the crane cab and another object or were struck by the crane while
they were working on the craneway. Ten workers were killed in
accidents that occurred when the crane load struck some ob ect as
the load was being raised or lowered. Twelve other fatalities occurred
when the employees were struck by the load as it was being lowered,
or were struck by objects falling from a suspended load when it was
carried over their heads. Swinging slingloads which struck the injured
employee caused an additional 8 fatalities, and 7 men were electrocuted
when the crane on or near which they were working came in contact
with high-tension wires.




6

Unsafely stored or piled materials caused 25 fatal accidents. In
most of these cases the piles of materials were insufficiently braced or
poorly placed. Loose materials lying on scaffolds or other working
surfaces were specifically responsible for 9 of these deaths.
The need for better control of traffic in shipyards is emphasized by
the fact that 18 workers lost their lives when they were struck by
cars or trucks. Standard-type trucks were involved in 10 of these
accidents; straddle-trucks in 5; and automobiles or busses in 3.
Unguarded or improperly guarded agencies.— Improperly guarded
agencies were responsible for 106 fatalities. Unguarded or inade­
quately guarded scaffolds, stagings, or catwalks accounted for 48 of
these, and open manholes, hatchways, and other unguarded openings
in working surfaces caused 40 additional fatalities. The 5 fatalities
associated with unguarded machines all resulted from kick-backs
from power saws. Nine workers were electrocuted when they came
in contact with unguarded or inadequately guarded electrical equip­
ment such as switches and power lines.
Unsafe A cts

Of the 655 fatalities included in this study, 370 were known to have
resulted from accidents involving an unsafe act. Of the remainder,
there were 173 cases which apparently involved no unsafe acts, while
112 could not be classified because of insufficient data.
Among the accidents in which an unsafe act was known to have
been committed, over 65 percent were caused by the injured employee’s
taking an unsafe position or posture. Exposure to the crane or its
load caused 84 of the 242 fatalities in this group of unsafe acts.
Unnecessary exposure to the slingload alone caused 41 of these fatal
work injuries, and 43 other workers were killed when they exposed
themselves to other parts of the crane. In most of the latter group
of cases the employees were caught between the crane cab and some
other object or were struck by the crane as it was being moved.
Thirty-three workers lost their lives after taking an unsafe position
on stagings or platforms on which they were working; 4 others died
as a result of accidents on stagings on which they were climbing or
walking. Seven employees were killed when they fell from the staging
as they attempted to climb from one level to another, and 3 others
fell as they attempted to jump from one staging to another. Falls
from other working surfaces caused 24 additional injuries in this
group.
Unnecessary exposure in connection with the operation of vehicles
resulted in death to 17 shipyard workers. Nine men were killed when
they fell from vehicles on which they were riding or were caught be­
tween the vehicles and other objects. Three men drowned when they
fell from ships on trial runs. Another employee was killed when he
attempted to grease the mechanism of a dump truck as the body was
being lowered; he sustained a spine fracture.
Using unsafe equipment or equipment unsafely constituted the
second highest number of unsafe acts. Most of these cases involved
misuse of stagings or scaffolds, hand tools, hoisting apparatus, or
electrical equipment.




7

,

Fatalities by Occupation o f Injured W orker

Practically every regular shipyard occupation was represented in the
fatality list of 1943 and 1944. There were, however, certain highly
significant occupational groupings among the reported cases, which
emphasize the variations in the hazards faced by workers of the differ­
ent crafts. Fully 37 percent of the workers who were killed were
employed as shipwrights, riggers, or welders, or as helpers to one of
these crafts. An additional 27 percent of the fatally injured workers
were classified as electricians, laborers, pipefitters, or shipfitters, or as
helpers to these crafts. Over 64 percent of the fatalities, therefore,
fell within seven occupational groups which together include less than
half the total employment of shipyards.
The greatest variation between the fatality record and the general
occupational distribution in shipyards was in respect to the riggers.
This occupation generally constitutes about 2 percent of the total
employment in shipyards. In the fatality record, however, riggers
accounted for no less than 15 percent.
This extreme disproportion was not apparent in respect to any
other craft, but the proportions of fatalities to shipwrights, crane
operators, electricians, and erectors were each at least double the
relative numerical importance of these crafts in the total shipyard
population. Similarly, the proportion, of all fatalities which befell
pipefitters, shipfitters, and welders substantially exceeded the pro­
portion of all shipyard employment represented by those crafts.
Riggers.—Although there were a few fatal accidents to riggers
which resulted from unsafe conditions or operations not directly
connected with the movement of materials by means of cranes, most
of the cases involving riggers or their helpers were closely associated
with hazards arising directly from the operations of their craft
Safe practice dictates that workers should remain clear of moving
sling loads. Failure to obey this rule led to at least 34 of the fatal
injuries to riggers. Nine riggers were killed when they were struck
by swinging sling loads. In 7 of these cases, the injured was caught
between the swinging load and a fixed object. Three of these acci­
dents occurred when the load was being picked up and 3 occurred
when the load was being lowered into place. Another rigger was
killed, when, after giving the signal to the crane operator to swing a
roof section into place, he turned his back to the moving crane load
and was knocked into an opening on the deck.
Defective hoisting apparatus, which permitted the load or part of
the apparatus to drop on the worker, was responsible for 9 fatal acci­
dents. Two riggers were killed in separate accidents when the cable
“ ran out” of the drum. In one of these accidents the cable was
fastened to the drum, but pulled out of the fastening; in the other, the
cable was not fastened. The recommendation of the safety inspector
in the latter case was: “ Recommended that superintendent and fore­
man place identification marks near end of cable.” Crane booms,
which fell because of mechanical defects, caused 3 riggers to lose
their lives; and a defective cable caused a small crane to tip and fall
on a fourth worker.
Poorly rigged loads which permitted objects to drop from the sling
resulted in 9 fatal injuries. In 2 other accidents, riggers crawled
660112°—46-----2




8

under the loads after they had been landed and were killed when the
loads shifted.
Four riggers were killed when they attempted to land or guide sling
loads from an unsafe position. In one case the worker was standing
on the rail of the ship. The swing of the crane threw him off balance
and he fell 30 feet. In a similar accident, a rigger was standing on a
stairway. He was thrown to the main deck 15 feet below.
Standing on material upon which loads were being placed resulted
in the death of 6 riggers. Two of these men were standing on racks
which became unbalanced when the Had was placed. In the other
4 cases the slings struck and jarred the piled material on which the
riggers were standing, throwing 3 men from the piles and causing
the fourth to be crushed among the materials when the pile collapsed.
One of these men experienced only a fracltired ankle at the time, but
died later as a result of a blood clot.
Four riggers were killed when they were standing near, or on, the
load, as it was moved. In one of these instances the rigger was
standing on a rack against which the crane load was resting. As
the crane load was lifted the rack collapsed and the worker was caught
in 10 tons of falling steel. Two other riggers were injured when the
piles of materials on which they were working shifted and fell on them.
Riding, or sitting, on the crane is usually forbidden. Violation
of this rule, however, resulted in 8 fatal injuries to riggers. In 5 of
these accidents the injured workers were sitting on the chassis of the
crane and were crushed as the crane was swung around. Three
other riggers fell under the wheels of cranes.
Four riggers were injured fatally as. a result of riding the sling load.
In 2 of these cases the load shifted, dropping the workers to the area
below. A third injury was caused by a cable parting and dropping
the worker; in the fourth case the crane operator dropped the load into
the water, drowning the rigger.
Thirteen riggers lost their lives when they fell from walkways, lad­
ders, or working surfaces. Unguarded or inadequately guarded work­
ing areas contributed to 4 of these accidents. In one case, the rigger
was leaning against a weakened railing when it gave way, and he fell
50 feet to the main deck. In another accident, an inexperienced rigger
became excited and backed away from a rising load. He fell 18 feet
from the unguarded platform on which he was standing. A third
rigger fell from the deck of a ship to a float and sustained a fractured
skull. Another dislodged a safety bar across a doorway when he was
throwing a rope upward to another level; later he fell through the un­
guarded doorway. Four riggers sustained fatal injuries while working
on defective or inadequate working surfaces and 5 others lost their
lives when they failed to use proper care in climbing or walking. Two
of these men fell from ladders, another stepped over the side of the
ship to the anchor and fell, and 2 others fell from objects on which
they were walking instead of using the provided ladders or the desig­
nated walkways.
Four riggers were killed (2 in one accident) as a result of explosions,
and 4 were electrocuted. In each of the latter four accidents, the boom
of the crane came in contact with an overhead power line.
Two riggers were injured when they were struck by moving ve­
hicles* Two others died as a result of surgical operations for correc­
tion of apparently nonfatal injuries. In one of these cases the worker




9
died during an operation for hernia, and in the second the worker died
during an operation for the removal of a foreign body from his eye.
Welders.— Over 60 percent of the reported fatal injuries to welders
were due either to contact with electric current or to falls to a lower
level. The dangers of low-voltage current are emphasized by these
electrocutions. Five of the 24 deaths in this group resulted from con­
tact with the exposed filaments of broken electric-light bulbs, and 7
men were killed when the current from their welding torches passed
through their bodies. Clothing, which had become wet with perspira­
tion, contributed to at least 2 of the latter group of injuries.
Defective grounds on welding machines caused 6 fatal accidents to
welders. Two of these occurred only 8 days apart on the same ma­
chine. Open switches accounted for 2 deaths, and 1 man was
electrocuted while he was pulling a 440-volt feed line for a welding
machine. The insulation was broken, permitting his hand to come
into contact with the electric current.
Sixteen of the 24 fatal falls were from stagings or platforms. Most
of these were due to lack of, or inadequate, guards. In 2 of these
accidents, the welders fell between the guardrail and the working
surface. Loose flooring on the stagings contributed to 3 fatalities.
Two welders were killed when they fell from the deck of a ship. Two
others fell into open hatchways and 2 fell from ladders. Another was
killed when he fell into an open, unguarded pit in the yard and still
another fell from the boat rail on which he was standing.
Fifteen welders lost their lives when they were struck by moving
objects. Seven of these were killed by crane loads. Four were
crushed when the plates or brackets upoii which they were working
fell on them. One man was struck by a straddle-truck and another by
a standard-type truck.
Burns were responsible for 5 fatalities. Two welders were fatally
burned when they used an oxygen line for a cooling unit. When they
lit their torches they were enveloped in flames. In a similar accident,
a fire was started when a defective oxygen hose permitted the oxygen
to escape into the working area. Two other welders were burned
while welding overhead without wearing protective clothing. In one
of these cases the worker neglected to report for first aid until an in­
fection had developed.
Four welders were killed in explosions. Another developed pneu­
monia after breathing welding fumes, and a sixth became unconscious
and died, presumably because of inadequate ventilation, while welding
in a confined space.
Shipwrights or carpenters.— Slightly over half of the 63 reported
fatalities to shipwrights were caused by falls from one level to another.
Fourteen of these falls were from scaffolds. In 3 of these cases the
worker fell over or under the guardrail. Three others were caused by
defective scaffolds. In one case the surface was slippery because of
rain, in another the scaffold planks were not bolted, and in the third a
cable pulled loose from a swinging scaffold. Four men fell as they
attempted to move planks on scaffolds and lost their balance. One
carpenter lost his balance when he was struck by a blast of air from an
air valve, and another fell as he was climbing down the outside of
a staging.
Six carpenters were killed when they fell into deck openings, none
of which were guarded, and 6 others fell overboard. Two of the latter
group were killed in the same accident. In this case, the men were



10
working on a lifeboat which was swung over the side of the ship. The
release gear of the lifeboat was made fast to the floor boards. As they
removed the retaining pins from the floor boards, the release was
automatically tripped and the lifeboat fell 42 feet to the pier. Both
men were thrown clear of the boat and sustained fractured skulls.
Eighteen shipwrights were killed as a result of being struck by
moving objects. Four of these sustained fatal injuries in one accident
when a plate on which they had been working fell on them. In this
accident, a padeye was welded to a bulkhead and another to a shellplate assembly. The padeyes were connected by a turnbuckle which
was being used to pull the plate into position. The padeye on the
bulkhead pulled off during the operation, causing the shell-plate
assembly to fall on the workers. Four other workers were killed by
kick-backs from circular saws. None of the saws was guarded.
Three men were killed when they were struck by cranes or crane loads
and one was struck by a plank which slipped out of a hand line which
was being used to lower the plank from overhead. Failure to use
equipment safely caused two additional deaths to shipwrights.
Four shipwrights were caught between moving objects and crushed.
One man was building a box between two railroad cars and was caught
between them as they were moved. A second man started a boat in
gear and with a full throttle, so that the boat lurched forward under
the pier and crushed him. Another was caught between a moving
overhead crane and a pillar as he was standing on the crane track.
T
The fourth of these accidents occurred to a carpenter working in the
hold of a ship. He was ordered to stand clear of a sling load which
was being landed and he moved back 6 feet. The load, however, hit
the deck and skidded in his direction, pinning him between the load
and a stanchion.
Two shipwrights were electrocuted while worldng with shortcircuited machines. Another was working on a temporary scaffold
under the power rail of a gantry crane. As he straightened up he
came into contact with the exposed rail.
Improper care in walking contributed to 2 fatal injuries. In one
of these accidents a splinter entered a shipwright’s leg as he brushed
against a timber during a launching. He failed to report to the firstaid room as instructed by his foreman; infection developed, causing
his death. In the other accident, the injured was 1 of 3 men carry­
ing a heavy plank. The plank struck a skidway and the shipwright
walked into the end of the plank, rupturing his intestine.
Shipjitters.— Falls accounted for more fatalities to shipfitters than
any other type of accident. Of the 53 reported fatalities to shipfitters,
28 were caused by falls. Twenty-six of these were falls to a lower
level; falls from stagings or scaffolds were responsible for 16 deaths, 3
men fell from ladders, 4 men fell into holds of ships, and 3 others fell
over the sides of ships.
Injuries resulting from being struck by moving objects caused the
deaths of 11 shipfitters. Four were killed when they were struck by
moving vehicles. Straddle-trucks were involved in 2 of these acci­
dents. Four other workers were fatally injured when they were
struck by cranes or crane loads. Three of these men were struck by
the load and the fourth was injured when he was struck by a crane as
he was walking on the craneway. Another worker died during an
operation made necessary as a result of an accident in which he struck
himself on the leg with a 16-pound sledge hammer.




11
Four shipfitters were killed in explosions. Three of these were in­
jured in the same accident when a barge on which they were working
exploded.
Electricians.— Of the 42 reported fatalities to electricians, falls to
lower levels accounted for 16, and contact with electric current for 13.
Falls from staging were responsible for 3 fatalities, and falls into
deck openings for 3 more. The remaining fatalities from falls resulted
from a variety of causes. One man, partially intoxicated, fell while
climbing onto a crane. A second man was walking on a catwalk.
As he stepped on welding lines on the walk, the welder pulled the
lines, with the result that the electrician fell to the bottom of the hold
and sustained a fractured skull. Another electrician stepped from the
crane walkway to the crane, slipped on the wet walkway, and fell 80
feet to the ground. Still another employee leaned against a railing,
the welding into place of which had been left uncompleted by the
welders on the previous shift, and fell 60 feet. A leaderman sustained
a fractured skull when he attempted to place a heavy plank from one
bulkhead to another; the board pulled him off balance and he fell from
the bulkhead. A marine electrician who tried to jump the 3 feet
between hulls fell between them, striking the bumper logs 40 feet
below.
Six electricians were electrocuted by coming into contact with highvoltage lines. Three of these deaths occurred while men were working
on the lines, and 2 were caused by workers touching the lines acci­
dentally while working near them. Electric current encountered
while working on or near switchboards or control boxes caused the
deaths of 5 workers. Two other workers were electrocuted while
working on machinery, but complete details on how the accidents
occurred are lacking.
Three electricians were caught in, on, or between, moving objects.
Two of these deaths occurred in the course of making tests. In one of
these cases the operator attempted to check the speed of a rapidly
moving boat; this operation was done so quickly that the boat dipped
and sank, causing the electrician to drown. In the other, the elec­
trician was riding, during a test run, on an elevator loaded with a
concrete beam and two anchors; he was crushed when one of the
elevator cables broke, causing the test load to shift upon him.
Two electricians in different yards used carbon tetrachloride to
clean electric motors. Both men died as a result of breathing the fumes.
Three other men died in explosions; two of these died in one accident
when a barge exploded.
Pipefitters or steamfitters.— Falls, contact with electric current, and
being struck by moving objects were the three most common types of
accidents among the cases involving pipefitters. Of the 37 reported
fatalities, 12 were due to falls, 10 of which were to a lower level.
Two men fell from ladders, 2 fell through unguarded deck openings,
and 2 fell over the sides of the ships on which they were working.
One man fell off a ship and was drowned when the wooden handrail,
to which he was holding, pulled loose. One pipefitter fell while de­
scending a stairway, one fell as he attempted to jump from the ship
to a gangplank, another fell under the wheels of a trailer on which he
had been riding, and another fell from a pile of pipe.
Seven pipefitters were killed when they came into contact with
electric current. Defective equipment caused 6 of these accidents,




12
and the seventh occurred when the pipefitter raised his head under an
electric switchboard and touched a live wire.
Three pipefitters were struck by moving vehicles, and one was
struck by a crane load as it fell on the truck in which he was sitting.
Hatch covers piled beside an open hatchway and not adequately
secured fell, striking a helper working in the hold. Another worker
was struck by the anchor when the brake failed.
Four pipefitters were killed in explosions involving acetylene gas.
Machinists.— Over half of the 30 machinists reported killed were
injured when they fell to a lower level or were struck by a moving
object. Three fell from stagings on which they were working, and 3
fell from walkways. In at least 3 of these cases, railings had been
installed but the workers fell either under the railing or between the
scaffold and the ship. Two men fell from cranes or from overhead
crane rails, and one fell from a ladder.
Seven machinists sustained fatal injuries when they were struck by
moving objects. Two of these men were killed when material fell
through deck openings and struck them as they were working below
deck. One man was killed by a kick-back from a power saw as he was
walking through a shop. In another case, the contact pin on the
governor of an unguarded portable grinding wheel was too short,
allowing the wheel to operate at twice its normal speed. The wheel
exploded and a fragment struck the machinist, causing injuries which
resulted in his death.
Four men were caught between, or on, moving objects. In one of
these cases the man’s trousers caught in the wheel of a straddle-truck,
pulling him to the ground.
Three machinists were fatally burned when they came into contact
with steam or fire, and two were electrocuted. One of the electrocu­
tions occurred when the worker attempted to replace a broken light
bulb. Three men were killed (two of these in the same accident) by
explosions. In both of these instances, fellow workers had previously
opened oxygen lines and the explosions occurred when burning torches
were lighted. Another machinist was overcome by hydrocyanic-acid
fumes. The acid was being used as a fumigant and the machinist
neglected to leave the ship after a signal had been given to do so.
Burners.— Nine, or nearly half, of the 19 burner fatalities resulted
from falls. In only 3 of these, however, was the fall from a scaffold
or platform. Most of the other falls occurred while the employees
were working in dangerous positions. One man was pulling his burner
lines while standing on a railing around the hold, a second attempted
to lift a jack while “ precariously perched” on the ribs of a forepeak
section, and a third was kneeling near an open door on the side of the
ship. One burner fell from the skids as he attempted to step down
instead of using the stairs. Another burner stepped on a hatchboard
lying across the hatchway, and dropped 25 feet to the bottom of the
hold; the hatchboard was unsupported at one end.
Three burners were burned to death in separate accidents when
gas which had accumulated in confined working spaces was ignited.
One other burner was overcome by carbon-monoxide gas while working
in an inner bottom.
One burner died as a result of a seemingly minor injury. While
burning, he slipped and struck his shin against a beam. He was given
first aid and hospitalized. About 2 months later he died of infection.




T able 1 .— D istribution o f Fatal W ork Injuries in Shipyards, b y Part o f B ody Injured and Nature o f In ju ry , 1943 and 1944
Total fatal work
injuries
Part of body injured
Number
Total fatal work injuries:
Nnmhftr
Percent1.................................... ........

655

Head__ _______ ______________________
Brain or skull____________________
Other........................... ....................

222
216
6

Trunk._______ ______________________

136
25
30
43

Per­
cent 1

Spinal cord, back

Ribs, chest______________________

Abdomen
H ip or pelvis
Other

Upper extremities
Lower extremities

Body g en eral..___________ __________
Unclassified, insufficient d a ta ________
i Percent based on known cases only.




16
7

21
201

68

Cuts,
lacera­ Contu­ Strains,
tions,
sions,
Hernia
punc­ bruises sprains
tures

48
9.1

g
1.5

17
3.2

37.8
36.8
1.0

2
1
1

4
3
1

4
3
1

23.2
4.3
5.1
7.3
3.8
2.7

2
1

3

8
1

4

3

3

6
1

4

3

1

1
2
1'
1

1

loo. 6

22

Ampu­ Bums
and
tations scalds

1.2
3.6
34.2

5
0.9

1
1
.4

1
1
42

Frac­
tures

Elec­
Poison­
trocu­
ing*
Con­ indus­ Drown­ tion,
cussion trial
ing
elec­
trical
disease
shock

3
0.6

239
45.2

11
2.1

169
166
3

5

0.9

11
11

9
1.7

38
7.2

69
13.0

9

38

69

126
18
18

42
2
20
2
3
15

18

65
12.3
14
14

47
19
10

3
9
9
2

Unclas­
sified,
Crush­ insuffi­ Other
ing
cient
data

21
2

6

19

6

1
1
21
64

i
5

1
7
1

12
2.3

T able 2.— Distribution o f Fated W ork Injuries in Shipyards, by Accident T yp e and b y A gen cy , 1943 and 1944
Hoisting
apparatus

Total fatal
work injuries.
Ma­
chines

Accident type

Eleva­
tors
Load

Number Percent1

Total fatal work injuries:
Nnmher
.
.
Percent 1
Striking against
Struck by
_______________________________
Caught in, on, or between
Pall—on same level
Pall—to lower leyel
Slip (not fall) ........................................................
Contact with extreme temperature
_ ____
Inhalation, absorption, ingestion
Contact with electric current
Explosions
__________ ____

Overexertion __ __________________ ___ _____
_
Other
Unknown

1 Percent based on known cases only.




655
100.0
6
157
62
10
251
2
36
10
72
37
2
1
9

.9
24.3
9.6
1.5
39.0
.3
5.6
1.5
11.1
5.7
.3
.2

Other
parts

Pres­ . Ve­ Electric Hand
sure
appara­ tools
vessels hicles
tus

5
0.8

5
0.8

75
11.7

60
9.3

9
2

1
3

51
14

22
20

1
24
14

1

6

10

20

13

14
4
13
6

12
4

2

2
1

37
5.8

Chemi­
cals

8
1.2

6
1
1
1

3

72
11.2

46
7.2

30
4.7

Working
surfaces

7

1
1

3

36
1

Scaf­
folds or Other
stagings

87
13.6

51
7.9
1

86
2
4
2
1

6
43
1

Miscel­ T T n
unlane­ known
ous

166
25.8
5
43
8
3
83
1
13
2
1
5
1
1

13

1

2
3
1
6

T able 3.— D istribution o f Fatal W ork Injuries in Shipyards, by Unsafe W orking Condition and by A gen cy , 1943 and 1944
Total fatal
work injuries

Hoisting
apparatus
Ma­
chines

Unsafe working condition

Eleva­
tors

Number Percent1

Total fatal work injuries:
Number.........................................
Percent2........................................

655

Improperly guarded__________ _____
Defective agency..................................
Hazardous arrangement or procedure.
Improper ventilation— .....................
Lack of personal safety equipment__
Other....................................... .............
No unsafe working condition......... .
Unknown--------------------------------------

106
190
156
6
3
2
124
68

100.0
22.9
41.0
33.8
1.3
.6
.4

Load

Other
parts

Working
surfaces
Ve­ Electric Hand
hicles appara­ tools
tus

30
4.7

5
0.8

75
11.7

60
9.3

5
0.8

72
11.2

37
5.8

5
18
3

2
2
1

32
34

10
24

5

1
6
27

9
14
3

8
1

23
3

1
17
20

8
3

2
2

1Percent based on number of cases for which an unsafe working condition was known to exist.
2Percent based on number of cases in which the agency was known.




Pres­
sure
vessels

Chemi­
cals

46
7.2

8
1.2

26
1
3
3

3
3

8
5

2

Scaf­
folds or Other
stagings

Misml.
Un­
lane- known
ous

87
13.6

51
7.9

166
25.8

41
20
6

29
4
8

19
53
46

14
6

1
5
4

35
13

13

2
11

T able 4.— Distribution o f Fatal W ork Injuries in Shipyards, by Unsafe A ct and by A gen cy , 1943 and 1944
Hoisting
apparatus

Total fatal
work injuries
M a­

U n sa fe a c t

chines

Eleva­
tors
Load

Number Percent1

Total fatal work injuries:
Number. ....................
Percent *......................
Operating without authority, failure to secure
or warn................................................................
Operating or working at unsafe sp eed................
Making safety devices inoperative.................. .
Using unsafe equipment, or equipment unsafely.
Unsafe loading, mixing, etc...................................
Taking an unsafe position or posture...................
Working on moving or dangerous equipment___
Failure to use provided personal safety equip­
ment.................... ........... ........... ..................... .
No unsafe act— .................................. .................
Unknown____________________________ __ ___
_

655

100.0

19
17
2
62
14
242
11

5

0.8

Other
parts

75
11.7

9.3

.8

1 Percent based on number of cases for which an unsafe act was known to have been committed.
* Percent based on number of cases in which the agency was known.




5
0.8

Ve­ Electric Hand
hicles appara­ tools
tus

72
11.2

37
5.8

46
7.2

Working
surfaces
Chemi­
cals

8
1.2

Mtecel*

lane-

Scaf­
folds or Other
stagings

87
13.6

51
7.9

ous

166
25.8

Un­
known

13

5.1
4.6
.5
16.8
3.8
65.4
3.0

3
173
112

30
4.7

Pres­
sure

1

12

17
T able 5.- -Distribution o f Fatal W ork Injuries in Shipyards, Classified b y Occupation
o f Deceased, 1943 andl944
Occupation
AH oeenpations _

_

____

Boilermaker nr helper.
Burner
f!arpent.er, shipwright., or helper T
__ . _
P.hipper, sealer, or helper
(Iranp. operator or helper
■RlAct-rioiftn or helper
_ _
F.rep.t.or, plate hangar, or helper -1TTr
T,ahorer
Machinist or helper
■painf-er or hoi par
......
.. ____
Pipa fitter or helper ______
_____ _
Bigger or helper
__, r„ _ _ _
Sheet-metal worker or hp.lpp.r ; r ^ T
Ship fitter or hp.lpp.r ________ . _ TT
I in
St.agerigger
______
Stock or storeroom worker
Watchman or guard.
_ _
Weldor or helper. _.
N ot elsewhere classified. __
Ooenpation not specified
_ _____

Number Percent *
_

____

____

.

655

100.0

5
19
63
16
15
42
17
43
30
12
37
95
10
53
13
8
8
77
69
23

.8
3.0
10.0
2.5
2.4
6.6
2.7
6.8
4.7
1.9
5.8
15.0
1.6
8.4
2.1
1.3
1.3
12.2
10.9

i Percent based on known cases only.




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