While commercial fishing plays a vital economic role, those who fulfill these jobs face a tremendous amount of risk on a daily basis. When an accident occurs very serious injuries can happen as a result, which can either have long-term physical effects or even end in loss of life. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention explain some of the most common risks and how fishing companies can take steps to protect their workers.
Working on the deck can prove hazardous for many fishermen. For instance, decks are often slick with water, which can lead to trips and falls. There is also a risk associated with lines and cables situated around the deck, which sometimes snap and cause severe injuries including amputations. Along with proper training of crew, new technology is also thought to be a solution to on-deck injuries, which make up approximately 12 percent of commercial fishing fatalities.
Commercial fishermen also face a risk of falling off a vessel. This is actually the second leading cause of fishing fatalities, particularly when a person is not wearing a floatation device. Falls into extremely cold water can incapacitate a victim, which in turn inhibits swimming ability. Vessel owners are also encouraged to employ a man overboard alarm, and crew should never work alone on a vessel.
In terms of the leading cause of fatalities among commercial fishing crews, vessel disasters are considered the greatest risk. Approximately 50 percent of all fishing-related deaths occur because of vessel disasters, which includes boats sinking. Vessel owners must make sure that safety equipment, such as life rafts, are easily accessible. Also, workers must be properly trained on how to respond to such a disaster at least once every five years.