Offshore InjuryBlog

Steps to Reduce Injuries on Commercial Fishing Vessels Are Underway

Work aboard commercial fishing vessels can be extremely dangerous. In fact, a new research study from Oregon State University compiled data regarding injuries aboard vessels operating off the Alaskan coast. It was found that nearly half of injuries that occurred aboard commercial freezer-trawlers and approximately a quarter of injuries sustained aboard freezer-longliner vessels were linked to the handling of frozen fish.

According to a study recently published in the American Journal of Industrial Medicine, many injuries aboard commercial freezer trawlers and freezer-longliner vessels are preventable. With the right interventions, the study opines that injuries and fatalities could have been prevented.

The study attempted to drill down the injury data detail to such specificity that they could pinpoint the specific hazards that workers faced so that they could better develop strategies for prevention. The study was the first of its kind to assess the risk of fishing aboard these vessels, where the processing of fish on board is a unique feature. Both freezer-trawlers and freezer-longliners have a reputation for being some of the most dangerous vessels involved in commercial fishing—namely because of fatal accidents.

Detailed Data Regarding Commercial Fishing Vessels

By analyzing a dozen years of data regarding injuries, it was concluded that fishing on freezer vessels was actually significantly less risky than other forms of commercial fishing, which studies have proven to be among the most dangerous occupations in the entire nation. Many commercial fishing operations are characterized by hazardous working conditions, strenuous labor, long work hours, and harsh weather.

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention cites that from 2000 to 2010, an annual average of 46 deaths occurred (124 deaths per 100,000 workers), compared with an average of 5,466 deaths (4 per 100,000 workers) among all U.S. workers. There are approximately 115,000 seamen in the United States using a variety of different fishing gear and vessels.

The National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) maintains the Commercial Fishing Incident Database (CFID), a surveillance system for workplace fatalities in the commercial fishing industry in the United States. A review of the data from 2000-2010 found that:

  • 545 commercial fishermen died while fishing in the U.S.
  • More than half of all fatalities (279 total) occurred after a vessel disaster
  • Another 170 (31%) fatalities occurred when a fisherman fell overboard
  • Another 56 (10%) fatalities resulted from an injury onboard
  • The remaining 40 (7%) fatalities occurred while diving or from onshore injuries

Negligence in this dangerous line of work can lead to severe injuries and even fatalities. If you or a loved one has been harmed as a result of a commercial fishing injury, Arnold & Itkin may be able to help you seek out compensation. Our experience with a wide range of marine vessels and industries is invaluable in helping maritime workers to seek out compensation for damage incurred while at sea. We have represented injured fisherman and offshore workers all throughout the country. Contact our offshore injury lawyers for a free case evaluation.

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