According to a 2016 USA Today report, commercial fishermen have the second most dangerous job in America. The most dangerous job is logging.
How dangerous is commercial fishing?
In 2016 there were 86 fatal injuries per 100,000 fishermen. For loggers there were 135.9 fatal injures per 100,000 workers. The fatality rate for fishermen is 29 times higher than the national average.
Commercial fishing requires a strong back and many hours of grueling physical labor. Not only that, but extreme weather and being at sea far from help or medical attention also make this work more dangerous. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) the most common fatal accident commercial fishermen is vessel disasters. The second most common fatal accident is man overboard (MOB). Machinery on deck is the third cause of fatal injuries for fishermen.
Steps for safety
The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) has studied the risks and issues that commercial fishermen face. NIOSH has created a report that details how companies and crew can work towards increased safety. The number one safety precaution fishermen can take is to wear a life jacket or personal floatation device (PFD) at all times on deck.
NIOSH recommends that all fishermen stay current on safety and take classes regularly. Additionally, commercial fishermen should:
- Do monthly drills abandon ship, flooding, fire, and man overboard drills
- Avoid fishing in severe conditions
- Inspect the vessel regularly for sea worthiness and ensure it's watertight
- Regularly test cold water immersion suits for leaks
- Use a man overboard (MOB) alarm system*
The MOB System in the Gulf
The MOB system is very important for fishermen working in the Gulf. Most slips and falls off of ships go unseen. If you work on board in the Gulf make sure you and your crew take special precautions: Use a boarding ladder or trailing line to assist getting back on board the vessel. A water- activated or proximity engine kill switch can also prevent the boat from leaving you behind.