Preventing deaths in Alaska's fishing industry.
Public Health Rep 1995 Nov-Dec; 110(6):700
The public health success story of the sharp decline in deaths among Alaska's commercial fishermen was described. In the mid 1980s, commercial fishing related deaths were the main contributor to Alaska's very high occupational death rate, which captured the attention of Congress and resulted in the passage of a safety vessel law in 1988. During 1990 to 1994, 118 commercial fishers and 22 fish processors died while working in Alaska. This number included 100 drowning deaths. Of the 118, 73 resulted from vessels sinking or capsizing and 22 died from falls overboard. Only one victim wore a personal flotation device. This fatality rate of 140 per 100,000 per year was 20 times the overall US occupational fatality rate. US Coast Guard statistics showed that the fatality rate dropped from 24% in 1991 to 2% in 1994, while the number of vessels lost and people on board remained constant. Fishers used more immersion suits and life rafts to stay afloat and warm until being located via emergency position indicating radios. Monthly safety drills were conducted describing use of safety equipment. Compromised vessel stability and falls overboard remained important issues to be addressed to prevent future hazards. The authors conclude that the substantial progress made by new technologies and training in Alaska's most hazardous industry should encourage others to apply similar approaches to injury models elsewhere.
NIOSH-Author; Humans; Occupational-hazards; Occupational-health; Fishing-industry; Occupational-accidents; Occupational-health-programs; Marine-workers; Risk-analysis; Fishing-industry; Occupational-accidents; Occupational-safety-programs; Safety-education; Safety-equipment; Safety-measures; Safety-practices; Safety-programs; Public-health; Training
Jennifer Lincoln, 4230 University Dr., Suite 310, Anchorage, AK 99508
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