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May 4, 2009

Looking Towards the Future

Ten Strategies for Injury Control
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1. Eliminate the creation of the hazard in the first place*
(Changes in design, emergency stop buttons, ergonomics)
2. Reduce amount of the hazard*
(Stricter regulations for inspections and training programs)
3. Prevent release of hazard that exists
4. Modify rate or distribution of release of hazard
5. Separate hazard in time or space
6. Separate hazard and that which is to be protected*
(Life jackets, floating devices, location of fuel tanks, guards and shields on equipment)
7. Modify basic qualities of hazard
8. Make protected items more resistant to damage
9. Counter the damage
10. Repair or stabilize the object damaged

* Most appropriate for addressing commercial fishing injuries/fatalities


Eliminate Creation of the Hazard

Many injuries to fishermen are caused by entanglement in lines, getting stuck on a winch or pulley and other deck equipment (Lincoln et al., 2008). In 2002, NIOSH met with a group of fishermen from Alaska to discuss dangers on fishing vessels. A large number of the men identified winches, which consist of a rotating drum used to reel in the nets and lines, as a major cause of injury. Often times the men will get entangled in a fishing line and end up in the winch which can crush limbs or cause death. A major problem with the winch is that the controls to stop the motor are located toward the front of the winch and are difficult to reach if you are caught/entangled (Lincoln et al., 2008).

By using simple ergonomics, engineers were able to design an emergency stop button on the top of the winch and in an easy-to-reach location. This is an excellent example of preventing the creation of the hazard in the first place. By identifying potential hazards and analyzing what simple changes can be made in the design, a number of injuries can be prevented. Additional research should be conducted on the necessity of emergency stop buttons on other pieces of fishing equipment.
Image of a skipper operating a capstan deck winch, a piece of equipment which is usually very hazardous, however, an emergency stop button has been created for the top of the winch to provide extra safety precautions.


Reduce Amount of Hazard

By creating stricter regulations and conducting vessel inspections, the amount of hazard brought into being can be reduced. Vessel inspections may identify faulty equipment, mechanical problems, and improper or lack of safety equipment. Stricter regulations and training requirements will help employees understand how to properly use equipment and reduce injuries from misuse of equipment. This will also help employees become more aware of their working environment so that they can identify when something is not right.


Separate Hazard from What is Being Protected

Lastly, separating that which is to be protected (people) from hazards by a barrier is a great strategy in injury prevention. Fatalities from falling overboard can be as high as 29% (Lincoln et al., 2008); by providing life jackets and other float devices, the number of drowning can be reduced. Ensuring that fuel tanks are not placed in areas of high activity and are properly covered and maintained may help reduce injuries due to fires and explosions. Placing protective guards or shields around sharp or dangerous equipment will also prevent additional injuries. Additional research on the true needs and concerns of fishermen may be helpful to find problem areas and determine solutions. By discussing with fishermen, the types of injuries they have experienced, the severity, and how often the injuries have occurred, more precise and accurate data may be collected to help move forward in the solutions. sPic 4.jpg


Conclusion & References

Although the prevalence of fatalities and injuries in occupational fishing operations are extremely high, compared to other occupations, there is hope. By looking at available data, and identifying problem areas, solutions and preventive methods can be put in place to help reduce risk factors.


Center for Disease Control and Prevention. (2008). Commercial fishing fatalities—California, Oregon, and Washington, 2000-2006.The Journal of the American Medical Association, 300(13), p. 1510-1511.

Dzugan, Jerry. (October 23-25, 2000). A port-based fishing safety instructor network, and the second follow-up study on its effects on fishing fatalities (1995-1999) in Alaska. International Fishing Industry Safety and Health Conference, p. 373-377.

Lincoln, Jennifer. (2008). CDC media briefing: Interview on commercial fishing fatalities. Retrieved April 20, 2009, from http://www.docstoc.com/docs/609352/CDC-Media-Briefing-Commercial-Fishing-Fatalities-Full-Transcript

Lincoln, J.M., Lucas, D.L., McKibbin, R. W., Woodward, C.C., & Bevan, J.E. (2008). Reducing commercial fishing deck hazards with engineering solutions for winch design. Journal of Safety Research, 39, p. 231-235.

Leyland Fields, Leslie. (2001). Out on the Deep Blue. St. Martin’s Press: New York.

McDonald, M.A., & Kucera, K.L. (2007). Understanding non-industrialized workers’ approaches to safety: How do commercial fishermen “stay safe”? Journal of Safety Research, 38, p. 289-297.

National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health. (2008). Commercial fishing safety. Retrieved February 23, 2009, from NIOSH Web site: http://www.cdc.gov/niosh/topics/fishing

National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health [2]. (2008). Commercial fishing fatalities in Alaska: Public health summary. Retrieved February 23, 2009, from NIOSH Web site: http://www.cdc.gov/niosh/fishphs.html

National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health. (2006). NIOSH fatal occupational injury cost fact sheet: Agriculture, forestry, and fishing. Retrieved April 24, 2009, from NIOSH Web site: http://www.cdc.gov/niosh/docs/2006-151/

Redfield, Michael. (1971). Costs and Profitability in the Commercial Fishing Industry: The Insurance Dilemma. Division of Marine Resources, University of Washington, Seattle.

Robertson, Leon. (2007). Injury Epidemiology: Research and Control Strategies. Oxford University Press, Inc.: New York, New York.

Van Noy, Marlene. (1995). Toward a systematic approach to safety in the commercial fishing industry. Journal of Safety Research, 26(1), p. 19-29.

Waehrer, G., Leigh, P., Cassady, D., & Miller, T. (2004). Costs of occupational injury and illness across states. Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, 46(10), p. 1084-1095.


May 5, 2009

Additional Information

Here are some available links to additional information on Commercial Fishing Injuries/Fatalities: