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Dockworkers are Engaged in one of the Most Dangerous Jobs in the United States

On November 4, 2016, just before the end of his shift, which ran from 6 pm to 3 am, Bert Tufele, a Samoan longshore worker at the Stevedore Services of America (SSA) drove his utility tractor (UTR) close to the vessel, from which he was moving cargo containers, that was docked at Pier A of the Marine Terminal in Long Beach. His UTR, however, accidentally clipped the bombcart of another UTR that was in front of him. Upon impact, Tufele was thrown out from his UTR; the vehicle’s tires run over him, causing in him fatal injuries.

There had been other longshore worker deaths on this Long Beach dock in the past, most being workers who performed duties in other job classifications. The death of Tufele, however, is believed to be the first death that involved a UTR driver and the accident not linked to a faulty equipment or to another individual. This is why UTR drivers, prior to the start of their shift, are required to inspect their vehicles; during operation, they should maintain safe speed and always wear a seatbelt. Most UTRs, however, have no speedometers and have mechanical defects, such as missing or malfunctioning seatbelt.

In its website, the law firm Ritter & Associates talks about the importance of dockworkers in the shipping industry. Their task of loading and unloading cargo ships promptly and efficiently necessitates two things: the need to be physically fit and the need to go through extensive training so they can learn to load and unload properly.

Their job, however, is also one of the most dangerous jobs in the United States and, like any labor-intensive job, they are at risk of work-related injury, especially when machinery malfunctions or when other people act negligently.

Filing a maritime lawsuit against the manufacturer of a defective product or against the party whose negligent actions contributed to the accident may be necessary for the injured to claim additional financial compensation that will help pay for his/her medical bills, lost wages, and other damages.