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Commercial fishing in Alaska, 2000-2009.

Lucas-D; Lincoln-J; Mohelski-R
Int J Circumpolar Health 2013 Aug; 72(Suppl 1):525
Background. The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health recently completed a study of commercial fishing fatalities in the United States. The purpose of the study was to identify the most hazardous fisheries around the country and to describe the unique safety issues in each region. The cold water and remote fishing grounds found in Alaska make it a dangerous place to work. However, significant improvements in safety have been realized due to focused prevention efforts on high-risk fisheries. Methods. The Commercial Fishing Incident Database was used to identify all fatal occupational traumatic injuries that occurred in Alaska during 2000-2009. Data are available on person, vessel and environment. Results. During 2000-2009, 133 commercial fishermen died in Alaska. Half (67) of the deaths were caused by drowning following vessel disasters (e.g. sinking, capsizing) in which the crew was forced to abandon ship. Another 31% (41) of fatalities were the result of falls overboard. In addition there were 25 fatalities resulting from other causes (e.g. struck by gear, fall from height, diving). Fatalities occurred most frequently while fishing for salmon (39, 29%). Falls overboard caused the most deaths among salmon fishermen followed by drownings after skiff capsizings. However, the Bering Sea Aleutian Island Freezer Trawl fleet had the highest fishery specific fatality rate of 340/100,000 FTE/year. Conclusions. Tailored prevention programs for specific high-risk fisheries in Alaska such as Bering Sea crab have resulted in safety improvements since the 1990s. In addition to these prevention programs, safety training for fishermen is available and very affordable in Alaska. Progress has been made, but there remains a need for continued safety interventions to combat the unique work hazards found in Alaska particularly in salmon fishing operations utilizing skiffs and in the freezer trawl fleet operating in the Bering Sea.
Public-health; Health-services; Worker-health; Workers; Work-environment; Environmental-health; Environmental-exposure; Environmental-factors; Environmental-hazards; Injuries; Accident-prevention; Traumatic-injuries; Fishing-industry; Marine-workers; Demographic-characteristics; Safety-measures; Health-protection; Exposure-levels; Risk-factors; Hazards
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Agriculture, Forestry and Fishing
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International Journal of Circumpolar Health