In Alaska, Washington, and other areas where commercial fishing is a prominent industry, a common concern is worker safety. There are basic requirements that employers must adhere to for workers to be safe, but some might lack vigilance.
For employees, it is important to know the proper procedures, what should have been done and how injuries and death—if they occur—could have been prevented. When mistakes were made and people were hurt or lost a loved one, there are options.
Fishing boat workers’ duties place them at risk of injury
Fishermen are among the most at risk workers of any occupation. Some of the dangers they face include falling overboard, not having the necessary equipment to call for assistance, boat leaks and onboard fires.
Across the nation, the statistics for workers falling overboard and losing their lives are worrisome. Between 2000 and 2016, there were more than 200 such fishing worker fatalities. In those accidents, none of the workers wore a lifejacket. Fifty-nine percent happened without witnesses. Workers must have access to lifejackets, staffing should be sufficient so no one is alone and there must be a rescue protocol.
The simple way to have a warning signal is for flares to be available. Workers should know where they are and how to use them. Employers must make sure that they get the right types of flares for the boat they use and that workers are fully apprised of where they are located.
Leaks must be plugged in to prevent a minor problem from turning into a major one and putting people at risk. Fires can happen due to explosions or electrical accidents. Crewmembers must have the appropriate equipment such as fire extinguishers and know how to use them correctly.
Injured boat workers may have been negatively impacted by employer negligence
The summer months are a prime time for commercial fishing. The seas are busy and companies are trying to maximize profit. The work itself is rife with dangers due to the equipment, the reality of being on the sea, the need to trust co-workers, extended work hours, weather and the physicality of the labor. With the possibility of worker injuries and loss of life, it is imperative that the safety basics are followed.
People who were hurt at sea will have major medical expenses, lost income and could have injuries that prevent them from doing the same job as they did previously. Families who have lost a loved one will need to move forward in every way. These cases can be complex and having legal advice from those who understand the nuance of maritime injuries can be vital to a successful claim to be compensated.