May 4, 2009

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.