Unfortunately, physical and sexual assaults are not uncommon and one of the most likely places they will occur is on cruise ships. Maritime environments are among the most hazardous. Passengers are often the victims of assault by crew members, but workplace violence between crew members is also highly likely. According to FBI statistics 55% of sexual assaults and 22% of sexual assaults occurred on cruise ships. Most occurred in private cabins and were related to alcohol use.
Violent Incident Factors and Common Injuries
One contributing factor to violent incidents may be the cramped conditions of a commercial vessel. Spending weeks or months on a ship can be very taxing. No room to stretch, no solid land, time away from family and friends, and time with the same people all day is incredibly stressful, even for mentally and physically healthy workers. A worker with an underlying mental illness may be triggered by stressful sea conditions. Many people cope with this kind of stress by using alcohol and/or drugs, which only increases the likelihood of violent incidents.
Some common injuries sustained from physical assault are:
- Head and back injuries
- Neck injuries
- Broken bones
- Eye injuries
- Puncture wounds
Physical and sexual assaults at sea can often lead to anxiety, depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder in victims. In many cases, assaults lead to fatalities due to not having adequate medical care or being pushed overboard during a fight or sexual assault. Sadly, most victims don’t know that they have legal rights and many maritime crimes go unreported. Many victims of sexual assault are children because pedophiles know that many cruise ships don’t perform adequate background checks. In the case of predatory passengers, the ambiguous nature of international maritime law is seen as an opportunity for them to get away with their heinous crimes.
Preventing and Treating Cruise Ship Assaults
It is important for employers to have a zero-tolerance policy when it comes to the workplace or passenger-on-passenger violence on their vessel. Consider the mental health of your employees. Make sure crew conditions are livable, that they have plenty of opportunities for breaks with fun, healthy diversions when not working. It is vital to have a proper screening process that weeds out people with histories of violence so they don’t harm other crew members or passengers. Placing limits on alcohol intake can also help prevent violent outbursts. Make sure all surveillance cameras are working properly since this will be instrumental in catching crimes. Cruise ships must have medical personnel who are able to perform sexual assault examinations and should have medication stocked to prevent STDs for assault victims. Crew members should be trained to properly handle crime scene evidence. Passengers and crew members should always know the whereabouts of medical and security.
Your employer has a responsibility to you to make the workplace as safe as possible. Remember that if you a commercial vessel employee, you have rights. You should be paid if injured on the job and that compensation should cover medical and mental health care as well as lost wages. In the event of your death on the job, your dependents are entitled to compensation.Learn More