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Safety agencies place focus on fishing accidents and injuries

On Behalf of | Apr 4, 2024 | Commercial Fishing Accidents

While commercial fishing can be a rewarding job and many say that there is nothing they would rather do, there are inherent dangers with the work. They must coordinate with other workers, use heavy equipment, brave rough seas and adhere to safety principles. It is unfortunate that accidents with injuries and fatalities are common with commercial fishing.

To address safety concerns, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health is tasked with assessing the frequency of accidents, how they happen and trying to forge strategies to prevent them.

The ongoing research can be useful for fishermen and their employers to know what dangers are common and to prevent accidents. Of course, if an accident does happen, workers need to know how to be fully compensated for all that was lost.

NIOSH analyzes fishing boat safety

There are several areas of research the NIOSH is embarking on. One involves protective gear.

Immersion suits, also known as survival suits, are key to maritime safety. In an emergency, it allows the user to float until they can be rescued. The NIOSH is addressing concerns that these suits will have leaky seams that let cold water enter and put the fisherman in danger.

Currently, the U.S. Coast Guard simply visually assesses them to see if they are problematic. The NIOSH wants a more comprehensive test to make sure there are not issues that cannot be seen with the naked eye. Starting in the summer, it will collect 400 such suits from Alaska fishing boats and do research into their effectiveness.

Personal flotation devices are used to protect people from drowning. In the past, the agency worked with Alaska fishermen to determine which types of PFDs were most effective for comfort and safety. A problem has been how these devices protect women. Studies have not focused on female fishing boat workers. With that, it is difficult to know how they are protected in comparison to men. The study will try to find ways to maximize safety regardless of gender.

When there is a commercial fishing boat accident and the boat sinks or capsizes, many people are at risk of losing their lives. Given the climate and dangers for fishing boats in Alaska, NIOSH is looking specifically at how accidents with fatalities and non-fatalities were addressed between 2010 and 2019. It will look at where the accidents occurred, the weather and the location of USCG rescue facilities. Other factors will be non-rescue vessels that tried to help and how rapidly rescue teams responded.

Diving operations can place workers at risk. These are necessary for maintenance, repairs and harvesting. Since it is so physically arduous and people can suffer from illness, conditions and other challenges in addition to accidents, this will be assessed to gauge how best to make sure these workers are in the safest possible situation as they go about their duties.

Unsafe commercial fishing boats can place workers in danger

The areas of research the NIOSH is focusing on are designed to find improvements in the future. At the same time, it can be a guide for workers and their companies in knowing what dangers are prevalent.

When there is a commercial fishing accident, workers can face massive medical costs, be unable to work and wonder how they will move forward. Families who have lost a loved one will need to think about their future. Being aware of the various options available to maximize compensation is crucial in the aftermath of an accident.