All Hands on Deck: Improving Deck Safety on Commercial Fishing Vessels

Many fishermen are killed or disabled each year in the commercial fishing industry. Although most fatalities occurring in the fishing industry are related to the loss of a vessel, most serious injuries are caused by deck hazards such as machinery, fishing gear, and falls. Deck incidents can occur at any time and can result in debilitating, severe, and costly injuries within the commercial fishing fleet and industry, which has averaged 58 fatalities/year during the years 1994-2004 in the United States. The emphasis is on deck safety because research conducted by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) Alaska Field Station has shown that most commercial fishing-related fatalities and non-fatal severe injuries (67%) occur on deck during deployment and retrieval of fishing gear. The decks of fishing boats are slippery, constantly moving platforms, often congested with machinery and fishing equipment. Most of the machinery used on commercial fishing vessels lacks adequate guarding and safety features common to other industrial settings. This paper discusses NIOSH's Deck Safety Intervention Project, created in October 2000 to address safety issues in commercial fishing. The Project aims to use risk management tools to determine when and where deck injuries occur, and then develop intervention strategies with industry and safety organizations to mitigate the risks deck machines pose.


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  • Accession Number: 01049786
  • Record Type: Publication
  • Files: TRIS
  • Created Date: May 15 2007 4:16PM