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Alaska Pacific Office

Contact NIOSH Alaska

Jennifer Lincoln, PhD
Director, APO

purse seiner with rope Alaska Air transportation

The Alaska Pacific Office (APO) was established in 1991, to address the high rate of occupational injuries and fatalities in Alaska (five times higher than the national average.) Through focused research programs and a collaborative effort by many agencies, NGOs, industries, and workers centered on commercial fishing, logging, and aviation, APO helped bring about a 63% reduction in worker deaths by 2009. Beginning in 2006, APO began expanding some of its research programs to become national in scope. APO’s commercial fishing safety research and design program expanded to include the creation of a national surveillance database for workplace fatalities in the industry. APO also works with the Western States office on the NIOSH Oil and Gas Extraction safety and health research program.

Research programs include

20 Years of Progress: The Alaska Occupational Injury Surveillance System (AOISS)

Since its founding in 1991, APO has worked to create and maintain a comprehensive occupational injury surveillance system in Alaska. This effort is the result of data-sharing between a multitude of jurisdictional agencies and direct on-site investigation of incidents. The result of this data collection and analysis is the Alaska Occupational Injury Surveillance System (AOISS) Database. The database is maintained and updated through a sustained collaboration with state and federal external partners including the, Alaska Department of Health and Social Services, Alaska Department of Labor, US Coast Guard, National Transportation Safety Board, and other industry organizations, NGOs, and professional associations. This network serves to foster injury surveillance, a broader understanding of occupational injuries in the state, and opportunities to effectively influence the immediate response to emerging occupational injury problems. These on-going collaborations in Alaska emphasize rapid, non-regulatory, collaborative responses in intervention strategies. Industry and workers are invited to be full partners in planning and executing interventions and providing ongoing surveillance data to track successes and/or failures. It is from these long-term partnerships and interactions that APO’s commercial fishing and aviation programs have grown and expanded.


Since 1991, APO has conducted studies of fishing injuries and fatalities in Alaska. The results have shown that across all fisheries, the greatest dangers to fishermen are vessels sinking, falls overboard, and machinery on deck. From 1990 - 2009, APO helped reduce the commercial fishing death rate by 42% by developing practical safety interventions through partnerships with several organizations. In 2007, APO created the Commercial Fishing Incident Database (CFID.) CFID is the only comprehensive commercial fishing fatality database in the nation. Using this new tool, researchers at APO have been able to identify high-risk fisheries nationwide, and have begun creating targeted interventions across the U.S.


APO has successfully worked with the aviation industry and government agencies to reduce occupational fatalities in Alaska. During 1990-1999, an average of 11 work-related crashes occurred per year, resulting in an average of 16 occupational fatalities per year.By comparison, during the following decade (2000-2009), an average of 5 work-related crashes occurred per year, with an average of 8 occupational fatalities per year. Aviation-related incidents continue to be the second leading cause of occupational fatalities in Alaska. Efforts in aviation safety continue. Current APO projects include a fatigue study among Part 135 operators and pilots, collaboration with the Medallion Foundation on analysis of the Aviation Safety Action Program’s data, and collaboration with the FAA, the State of Alaska and the Medallion Foundation on the cue-based training project for pilots operating in Southeast Alaska.


The APO works with the Western States Office to improve safety among Oil and Gas Extraction workers. Researchers have built partnerships with industry stakeholders, identified priority research areas, and obtained funding to focus on the leading causes of death in the industry; motor vehicle crashes, contact injuries and fires/explosions. Products, to date include three safety training DVDs (Rig Moves, Seatbelts and Fall Protection) and a set of rig safety inspection checklists that are due to be released in 2012. All of these products have been developed in collaboration with safety professionals in the industry through participation in the NORA Oil and Gas sector council.