About the Center

The Center for Maritime Safety and Health Studies (CMSHS) promotes safety and health for all maritime workers, including those employed on vessels, at waterfront facilities working in and around vessels, and on shore directly supporting marine operations.

CMSHS is a “virtual center” managed by the Western States Division, and serves as a hub for researchers to collaborate while building partnerships with stakeholders throughout the US and the world.


The purpose of the Center is to:

  • Build partnerships with industry, labor, and other organizations
  • Identify occupational safety and health hazards in the maritime industries
  • Design interventions to decrease or control hazards
  • Evaluate progress and effectiveness
  • Promote safety and health hazard interventions
  • Coordinate research within NIOSH

CMSHS builds on the success of the NIOSH Commercial Fishing Safety Research and Design Program. In 2007, NIOSH expanded its fishing safety research focus from an Alaska regional program to a national program, establishing a surveillance system for all commercial fishing fatalities and vessel disasters. This allowed NIOSH to identify high-risk fisheries and regional hazards across the US. Research activities then focused on the prevention of vessel disasters and falls overboard, which are the leading causes of fatalities among commercial fishermen.

NIOSH research has resulted in:

  • Manufacturers designing new personal flotation devices using NIOSH data and with commercial fishing workers in mind.
  • Certain fishing fleets voluntarily adopting PFD use after being involved in NIOSH research projects.
  • The development of safety-related inventions, from prototypes in the field to new products available on the market.
  • Policy influence at the local, regional, national, and international levels as a result of the data NIOSH collected and analyzed.
  • Maritime organizations becoming familiar with NIOSH success in improving safety in commercial fishing by identifying relevant hazards, and working with industry to solve problems.
  • The fatality rate among commercial fishermen decreasing since 2009 in the US.

CMSHS will allow NIOSH to expand occupational safety and health research to other maritime subsectors and strengthen NIOSH’s partnerships for successful projects.

Current projects include:

  • Working with shrimp fishermen in the South Atlantic and the Gulf of Mexico to design stationary guarding for winches
  • Evaluating injury and illness insurance claims data for trends in the seafood catching and processing industry
  • Understanding the need for research to prevent occupational safety and health exposures in shipyards and marine terminals
  • Describing the marine casualties that occur on marine transportation vessels.

Future CMSHS initiatives could also address various other maritime safety and health issues including those related to fatigue, equipment design, work organization, employer policies, and other emerging issues facing maritime workers.

For information about partnering, suggestions for future research, or more about the Center for Maritime Safety and Health Studies, please contact CMSHS Director Jennifer M. Lincoln by email at

Page last reviewed: February 19, 2019, 03:55 PM
Content source:

National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Western States Division