Winches are an important piece of equipment on any fishing boat.
In addition to hauling in anchors, winches also pull other objects as well as fishing nets.
While these pieces of equipment are important, they also are dangerous.
According to a recent study that was reported by an Alaska media outlet, over the course of 20 years, 125 fishers suffered serious injuries by winches. Because these numbers only include those reported to the state’s Fisherman’s Fund, there may have been other injuries as well.
The serious injuries included amputation and severe bone fractures. These are the kind of injuries which can ruin a fisher’s season or even their career. The injuries also included at least one case of significant head trauma.
Of these injuries, 4 out of 5 happened on salmon fishing boats. Half of the injuries involved winches designed to pull anchors.
Those who prepared the study recommended that improving how the equipment operates, including emergency shut-offs, could help reduce the number of accidents.
The study also recommended additional training for those who operate the winches. However, fishing companies and those who control the boat’s operations have the responsibility to properly train crew members so they do not get hurt.
Those who have been hurt in a winch-related accident have legal options
As is the case with other maritime injuries, those who get hurt in an accident related to a boat’s winch may have legal options available to them.
Various laws make boat owners responsible to pay compensation to injured crew members who suffer injuries on the water.
Because of the differences in maritime law, cases involving injuries at sea are very different from workplace injuries that involve accidents on the land. It is important for victims to be sure they understand their legal options and alternatives.