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Commercial fishermen and equipment-related injuries

Individuals who work aboard commercial fishing vessels face many daily hazards. Quarters are cramped and, to avoid malfunction and injury, equipment used aboard fishing vessels must be properly maintained and stored. Additionally, seamen must often attempt to perform work duties in challenging weather conditions, which often compounds and creates many additional safety hazards.

Given the numerous risks that are inherent to working aboard a commercial fishing vessel, employers must take steps to ensure seamen are sufficiently trained and that equipment is in proper working order and well maintained. In cases where employers fail to fulfill these duties, seamen may suffer equipment-related injuries including puncture wounds, amputations, fractures, traumatic brain injuries and drownings.

A trawl winch is among one of the most vital and dangerous pieces of equipment aboard any fishing vessel. Weighing several tons, winches are used to let out, change the position of and reel in fishing lines and nets. In cases where a fisherman or his or her clothing becomes entangled in a line, net or winch drum; severe injuries and even death may result.

In addition to injuries related to the operation of trawl winches, those involving other types of equipment used to process fish and other seafood may also result in a fisherman suffering cuts, puncture wounds and finger amputations. While many of these types of injuries are not typically deadly, they require medical treatment and often months of recovery time. In some cases, these types of injuries may also inhibit an individual's ability to return to work.

Fishermen, who have suffered injuries while aboard a vessel, would be wise to immediately alert an employer and seek medical treatment. It's also important to document how an injury occurred and if the improper maintenance of equipment or machinery may have been a contributing factor.

Source: Maritime Injury Guide, "Trawl Winch Injuries," Feb. 27, 2015

Maritime Injury Guide, "Maritime Fish Processing Equipment Accidents," Feb. 27, 2015

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