Morgantown, WV: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Public Health Service, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, DHHS (NIOSH) Publication No. 2003-102, 2002 Oct; :1-474
In October 2000 more than 100 fishermen and safety professionals from 13 countries gathered to discuss fishing vessel safety. Papers were presented and discussed, experiences shared, and contacts made or renewed. We hope that attendees were inspired by others' work and returned invigorated, to their projects or programs. One major accomplishment of any conference is to publish the papers presented so that findings can be shared with other colleagues. The papers in this volume establish a foundation upon which to build new projects and programs. Forty-eight papers were presented at the conference, 43 of which are published here. (Five presenters were unable to submit their papers for publication.) We thank all of the presenters and authors for their contributions at the conference and to this proceedings volume. Few occupations are as challenging to the worker's safety as is that of commercial fishing. Fishing vessel safety is a complex interaction involving human (skipper, crewmember, owner), machine (vessels, equipment), and environment (weather, management scheme). Safety problems can occur when even a single element - human, machine, or environment - malfunctions. Human factors include fatigue, inexperience or non-use of safety equipment. Machine factors include older vessels and inadequate safety guards for heavy machinery used in many fishing operations. Environmental factors include harsh weather and slippery and unstable work surfaces. While reviewing the papers in this volume, it became very clear that there is no universal solution for fishing vessel safety. There is a real need to explore strategies to prevent fishermen from being injured or killed on the job through efforts such as improving vessel stability and hull integrity, making safety equipment such as survival suits and life rafts more widely available, further education and training, implementing safer management regimes, understanding and heeding weather information, averting falls overboard and addressing industrial safety problems that exist on board many fishing vessels. One of the challenges of improving safety on commercial fishing vessels is identifying plausible solutions to safety that neither hamper the ability of workers to fish nor diminish the quality of the catch. Within this volume there are interventions presented that meet these criteria. Readers will learn about efficient design of vessels, and how individual fisheries can accommodate a variety of vessel designs while safely pursuing their work. We note that many of the programs described in this volume strive to work in partnership with local fishermen to provide safety inspections and crew survival training. Technology has been able to help many fishermen in European and North American areas to obtain more accurate weather forecasts and to avoid hazardous fishing areas. Ultimately, most successful interventions rely on prevention; training, retrofitting, equipping with new technology are all things that a fisherman does before he leaves port. In many cases, these workers are much too far from help, when trouble occurs - the best interventions are those that prevent, or at least plan for worst-case scenarios well in advance. IFISH attendees returned home filled with new ideas and a new sense of purpose about what can or should be done to improve the safety of fishermen in their communities. We hope this document continues to motivate people to make a difference. Even though fisheries and fishing boats vary around the world, all fishermen have one thing in common - they put their lives at risk every time they go to sea.