NORA Symposium 2006: Research Makes a Difference! April 18-26, 2006, Washington, DC. Washington, DC: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, 2006 Apr; :95-96
The deck of a commercial fishing vessel is an unstable work platform that is constantly moving and often congested with machinery and equipment. Much of the machinery on commercial fishing vessels is rudimentary and has inadequate safety controls. The NIOSH Alaska Field Station (NIOSH AFS) has found that unlike fatalities in the fishing industry which are usually due to the loss of a vessel (87% nationally, 86% Alaska) (Lincoln and Conway 1999; Dickey 2003), most (67%) severe non-fatal injuries occur on deck during the deployment and retrieval of fishing gear (Lincoln and Conway 1999; Thomas, Lincoln et al. 2001). There were 574 severe non-fatal injuries that occurred in the commercial fishing industry during 1991-1998. This is equivalent to an annual rate for serious hospitalized injuries of 410/100,000 full-time fishermen. Machinery and fishing equipment accounted for 40% of non-fatal injuries, while another 27% were due to falls. These machinery-related injuries resulted from cables, chains, lines, winches, pot launchers and other deck equipment. Being trapped in a winch caused 35% of these machinery injuries (Thomas, Lincoln et al. 2001). Deck machinery and gear is also a factor in many fatal injuries aboard fishing vessels. The USCG has documented that from 1994-2000, 37 (8%) of all fishing related fatalities nationally were a result of either getting caught in gear, or getting struck by gear while operating machinery. (Dickey 2003). At least eight of these fatalities were due to winch entanglements. These fatalities can be prevented when practical engineering solutions can be developed. The purpose of this study was to take epidemiological data to industry to learn about hazards on deck and then to work with engineers to design out the identified hazards. In November 2004, NIOSH AFS partnered with the NIOSH Spokane Research Laboratory to develop an engineering intervention to improve safety on the deck of fishing vessels, particularly to reduce the hazard posed by the deck winch. Staff met with vessel owners, fishermen, and winch manufacturers to discuss various design options. Challenges to the design of a control technology included the requirement that fishermen be very near the turning winch, the line be wrapped on the winch by hand while it is turning, the diversity of deck layouts, and the harsh environmental conditions. The final design, an emergency-stop (e-stop) system, incorporates a momentary contact switch mounted directly on the winch, and the adjunct electro-hydraulic control circuitry. Hitting the switch mounted to the winch, stops the winch from rotating and prevents the entanglement. The prototype e-stop was installed on a fishing vessel and successfully tested during the summer 2005 fishing season in Alaska. Additionally, the system was presented to fishermen at a large industry trade show, where it received very favorable review by the industry. The system is currently being refined in preparation for additional testing in 2006. By using injury epidemiology to identify problems, industry to provide practical input and engineering design to control hazards, effective safety interventions can be implemented. This r2p approach should prove to be effective in providing a tool for this dangerous industry to prevent injuries on deck.
NORA Symposium 2006: Research Makes a Difference! April 18-26, 2006, Washington, DC.