NIOSH Update: College Students May Be Risking Their Lives on Fishing Vessels: Working in the Alaska Fishing Industry Is One of the Nation’s Most Hazardous Jobs. (Superseded By DHHS (NIOSH) 94-111)

May 1993
DHHS (NIOSH) Publication Number 93-111
93-111 Cover

The serious risks involved in summer employment in the Alaskan fishing industry, particularly for inexperienced college students, were described. Commercial fishing in Alaska was one of the most hazardous jobs in the United States. As a result of a fatal accident in 1985, the parents of one of the victims began extensive lobbying efforts which resulted in the passage of the Commercial Fishing Vessel Safety Act of 1988. Even so, many of the safety precautions have been ignored. The occupational fatality rate for the commercial fishing industry during 2 years of study was 200 worker deaths per 100,000 workers. The following safety precautions must be taken to cut down on these losses: train all crew members in the use of safety equipment and survival techniques, known where safety equipment is located and be certain it is in working order, conduct safety drills, ensure vessel stability and proper maintenance, and use personal flotation devices. Brief descriptions of five cases involving 13 deaths were provided. One successful rescue involving five crew members of a vessel that sank was described.