The closing remarks of the National Fishing Industry Safety and Health (FISH) workshop were presented. FISH was a workshop sponsored by NIOSH, dedicated to increasing awareness of and developing ways of preventing accidents in the Alaska commercial fishing industry. Topics discussed included with accident surveillance and prevention and identifying populations at risk in the Alaska commercial fishing industry. It was emphasized that efforts to reduce the high fatal accident rate in the Alaska commercial fishing industry, an average of 51 fatalities per year between 1980 and 1986 and 79 last year, should focus on prevention. The general concept of prevention was discussed. Prevention can be categorized as primary, secondary, and tertiary prevention. Primary prevention is directed at preventing an accident from occurring when a hazard is present. Secondary and tertiary prevention are directed at preventing injury or ameliorating the effects of injury when an accident occurs. The NIOSH philosophy is to focus on primary prevention utilizing surveillance to identify problems (hazards) and to target populations at risk. Once the populations at risk have been identified, interventions to control the hazards are implemented. Examples of applying these principles to the Alaska commercial fishing industry were provided. Risk factors for accidents in the Alaska fishing industry were discussed. Most of the fatal accidents in the fishing industry are drownings, resulting from vessels capsizing or foundering and persons being washed overboard. Nonfatal injuries or disorders also occur frequently in the Alaska fishing industry. Low back strain and sprains represent the largest single cause of morbidity in the Alaska commercial fishing industry, followed by lacerations, infections, and strains and sprains. Training fishing crews to operate vessels safely and to evaluate the stability of the vessel may be a primary preventive measure for preventing drownings. Requiring crewmembers to wear personal flotation devices represents a secondary preventive measure. Ergonomically based interventions can be applied to preventing morbidity in the fishing industry.
Proceedings of the National Fishing Industry Safety and Health Workshop, Anchorage, Alaska, October 9-11, 1992