Ship Worker Blames|Shell for Broken Leg

     SEATTLE (CN) – A woman broke her leg on Shell’s Arctic Challenger because its haste to begin Arctic drilling led to a culture of sloppy work and disregard for safety, she claims in court.
     Anita Hanks sued Royal Dutch Shell on June 18 in Federal Court. She claims its “drastically unrealistic schedule” to get the Arctic Challenger ready for the Arctic drilling season in 2012 led “directly” to her injury.
     Shell uses the Arctic Challenger in its summer drilling season off the coast of Alaska. The barge was retrofitted as a ship to clean up oil spills in the Arctic, and faced a series of delays in being certified, Hanks says in the complaint.
     She claims that Shell was “demanding its contractors and subcontractors rush the repair and reconstruction work on the Arctic Challenger to a drastically unrealistic schedule in hopes of being able to drill for oil in the Arctic that summer, which would have drastically increased profits, resulting in sloppy and unsafe work, leading directly to Plaintiff’s injury.”
     As she worked as a fire watch supervisor on the barge in 2012, Hanks says, “There didn’t seem to be any one person who knew where and when the welding projects would be going on, and there seemed to be a culture of feeling that while a fire watch was going to be required, there was no respect given to the person who was going to do it.
     “‘You are going to make a lot of money for doing nothing’ was the common comment, along with advice never to be seen talking with another red hat, and I had best always have a broom in my hand to prove I actually had something to do.”
     Hanks claims that when she started the job the other fire watch workers had been on the ship for only “a couple of weeks, since an unfortunate welder set himself on fire and was badly burned.”
     She says there was “a lot of gossip and backbiting,” and the fire watch employees seemed “willing to throw each other under the bus whenever they needed a scapegoat, which seemed often.”
     After several weeks on the job, Hanks broke her leg when a ladder collapsed as she climbed it to attach a fire blanket to ceiling beams.
     She sued Royal Dutch Shell Group dba ShellOil, the contractor Greenberry Industrial and Superior Energy Services, which managed Shell’s operations.
     She seeks damages for negligence, Jones Act violations, pain and suffering and her 22 percent disability.
     Shell’s Arctic drilling operations have been controversial. Two activists chained themselves to the Arctic Challenger this year in its harbor in Bellingham.
     Activist Matt Fuller called Shell’s Arctic drilling “an affront to our planet and to our society and especially to the indigenous populations up in Alaska, who rely on the fish for their subsistence and economic well being.”
     Hanks is represented by Lawrence Hildes, of Bellingham.

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