Swinging on a rope from one vessel to another is an iconic image from many Hollywood movies about seafaring. On film, it looks fun, but in the real world, it can be a dangerous maneuver.
Manufacturers introduced transfer baskets, often referred to as “Billy Pughs,” as a safer alternative for moving crew members. However, the use of these baskets can lead to serious injuries.
Risks of using transfer baskets
Transfer baskets include safety features not found with rope transfers, but there is still a risk of accidents. The risk tends to be highest when transfers occur over rough seas. Several types of common accidents can cause injuries:
- Collisions caused by bad weather or rough seas
- Malfunction of defective baskets
- Failure of improperly maintained baskets
- Improper operation of baskets caused by inadequate safety training
Common injuries caused by Billy Pughs
Collisions or falls caused by the improper use or failure of Billy Pughs can result in broken bones, organ damage, head injuries, drowning, crushing injuries and other types of serious damage. These kinds of injuries may result in lengthy hospital stays, high medical bills, lost income, permanent disability or death. In some cases, the employer may be responsible for financial damages suffered by employees in these accidents.
The Merchant Marine Act of 1920, which is commonly known as the Jones Act, provides financial remedies for persons injured in Billy Pugh accidents. This statute extends the Federal Employer’s Liability Act to seamen, which allows seamen to sue employers for personal injuries that occur during their employment on a job at sea.