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3 workplace safety hazards that can impact professional fishermen

On Behalf of | Jun 12, 2024 | Jones Act

Professional fisherman have very dangerous and demanding jobs. They may spend hours out on the open ocean performing physically-demanding tasks to help keep the nation fed. They often receive relatively competitive wages given how difficult and dangerous their work can be.

Many years, the fishing industry has been on the list of the most dangerous professions that year because of the number of workplace fatalities that occur. Even when fishing incidents don’t lead to worker deaths, they could lead to disabling injuries that force someone into a less lucrative profession.

Professional fisherman are compelled to accept some degree of risk because of their employment. Still, those who understand the top risks that they face as fishermen can potentially reduce their risk of suffering career-ending injuries or dying on the job.

Struck-by incidents

There are many moving parts on modern fishing vessels, some of which could come into contact with a worker. A struck-by incident could throw a worker overboard, putting them at risk of drowning. A worker could also suffer traumatic injuries ranging from broken bones to brain injuries if they get hit by moving equipment on a boat.

Entanglement in nets

Fishermen rely on nets to catch a large number of fish. Those nets can be dangerous to the humans putting them out into the water. It only takes the ship rocking at an unexpected moment for a worker to get their foot tangled in a net. They could then end up dragged overboard or seriously injured because of the tangling that occurs.

Environmental exposure

Fishermen often work very long shifts and may stay out on the open ocean even during times of inclement weather. Workers can end up sickened because of environmental exposure while out on vessels. Extreme weather could also increase the risk of the boat sinking, which could lead to injury or worse for the professionals.

Unlike many other employees, professional fishermen typically do not qualify for workers’ compensation benefits. They have to pursue compensation under the Jones Act. Filing a lawsuit is often part of the compensation process for an injured professional fisherman.