The television program “Deadliest Catch” has introduced many landlubbers to the perilous pursuit of crab fishing in the Bering Sea. The program places its cameras on the decks of various fishing boats, and follows the adventures – and occasional misadventures – of their crews. A recent report by the Bureau of Labor Statistics goes behind the scenes of the televised scenes in “Deadliest Catch” to report the true risks of chasing crabs in the Alaskan waters of the Bering Sea.
The greatest hazard – lack of sleep. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, fishing and hunting workers are the employees most likely to suffer an on-the-job injury or death, and Labor Department statistics support the supposition that this employment sector outranks all others in the potential for on-the-job danger. The direct cause of these injuries may be surprising.
According to an interview with a ship engineer posted on Reddit, lack of sleep is the principal hazard. The engineer told Reddit that he was awake for nearly 40 hours straight on three separate occasions over a 15-day span. He estimated that his longest period of uninterrupted sleep during this period was 3 hours.
According to organizations that study sleep patterns, healthy adults require between 7 to 9 hours of sleep per day. Sleep deprivation can cause memory issues, irritability, trouble with concentration, and high blood pressure. When the effects of sleep deprivation are superimposed on the known hazards of the Bering Sea – severe weather, high waves, and cold – the high on-the-job injury rate is not surprising.
Injured seamen and the Jones Act
In 1920, Congress passed the Merchant Marine Act, now more commonly known as the “Jones Act.” The law contains many provisions that regulate how U.S. ships must operate when transporting goods manufactured in the United States, but from a seaman’s point of view, the most important provision of the Jones Act is the section that permits an injured seaman to sue his employer in the state or federal court of his choice. Without this law, an injured seaman would have no remedy for work injuries because they are not eligible for workers’ compensation.
Solid legal advice
Anyone who suffers an injury at sea may wish to consult an experienced marine accident attorney for advice on whether damages can be recovered for the injuries and which court is the most favorable jurisdiction for commencing such a lawsuit.