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Preventing fatalities and severe non-fatal injuries in Alaska's commercial fishing industry.

Lincoln JM; Husberg BJ; Conway GA
NOIRS 2000--Abstracts of the National Occupational Injury Research Symposium 2000, Pittsburgh, PA, October 17-19, 2000. Pittsburgh, PA: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, 2000 Oct; :29
Purpose: Fatalities and non-fatal injuries have been inordinately common in Alaska's commercial fishing industry. Over 90% of these deaths were due to drowning, following vessel capsizings/sinkings and 60% of the non-fatal injuries resulted from being entangled, struck or crushed by fishing equipment. The purpose of our study was to examine the effectiveness of the current safety measures in reducing the high fatality and non-fatal injury rate of Alaska's commercial fishermen. Method: Alaska Occupational Injury Surveillance System and Alaska Trauma Registry data were used to examine fishing fatalities and injuries. Demographic, risk factor, and incident data were compiled and analyzed for trend. Results: During 1991-1999, there was a significant (p<0.001) decrease in Alaskan commercial fishing deaths. Although drownings from vessel-related events during the crab fisheries haven't decreased as much as in other fisheries, significant progress (p<0.001) has been made in saving lives of fishermen involved in vessel-related events. Specific measures tailored to prevent drowning in vessel capsizings and sinkings have been very successful so far. However, these events continue to occur, placing fishermen at substantial risk. Additional efforts toward vessel stability, hull integrity, and avoidance of harsh weather conditions must be made to reduce the frequency of vessel events. From 1992-1997 there were 536 severe injuries (437/100,000/year) and there has been no significant downward trend of the most severe injuries (AIS >3). Injuries included fractures (257[50%]), open wound (64[12%]), burns (28[5%]), amputations (27[5%]), and contusions (27[5%]); 60% resulted from being entangled, struck or crushed by fishing equipment and 25% from falls. The nature of these fatalities and injuries reflect that modern fishing vessels are complex industrial environments posing multiple hazards. Measures are urgently needed to prevent and mitigate falls overboard and on deck, and improve equipment handling and machinery guarding.
Accident rates; Accident statistics; Accidents; Accident prevention; Injuries; Traumatic injuries; Injury prevention; Surveillance programs; Statistical analysis; Epidemiology; Mortality data; Mortality rates; Mortality surveys; Fishing industry; Machine guarding; Materials handling equipment; Materials handling
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NOIRS 2000 Abstracts of the National Occupational Injury Research Symposium 2000, Pittsburgh, PA., October 17-19, 2000
Page last reviewed: April 9, 2021
Content source: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Education and Information Division