NIOSHTIC-2 Publications Search

All hands on deck: improving deck safety on commercial fishing vessels.

Lincoln JM; Lucas DL
Proc Mar Saf Secur Counc 2007 Mar; 64(1):29-31
Commercial fishing is one of the most dangerous occupations in the world. Sinkings like the Arctic Rose and Big Valley in Alaska, as well as other tragedies like the fatal fire aboard the Galaxy, take dozens of lives each year. From 1994 to 2004 in the United States, 641 commercial fishermen died-an average of 58 each year. Of those fatalities, 332 (52 percent) were due to a lost vessel and another 184 (29 percent) were caused by falls overboard. The remaining fatalities were caused by deck injuries, diving, fires, explosions, or other causes.1 In 2005, 48 commercial fishermen were killed on the job, resulting in an occupational mortality rate of 118 for every 100,000 workers. That's the highest of all occupations in the country-30 times higher than the mortality rate for the average U.S. worker of four per 100,000. Although most fatalities in the commercial fishing industry are due to the loss of a fishing vessel, researchers at the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) Alaska Field Station have shown that most severe non-fatal injuries (67 percent) occur on deck during the deployment and retrieval of fishing gear. "Severe" injuries are defined as those requiring hospitalization such as lacerations, broken bones, head injuries, and smashed limbs. The deck of a fishing boat is a slippery, constantly moving work platform that is often congested with machinery and fishing equipment. Most of the machinery used on commercial fishing vessels lacks adequate guarding and safety features common to other industrial settings.
Fishing-industry; Injuries; Injury-prevention; Accident-prevention; Accidents; Traumatic-injuries; Engineering-controls; Control-technology
Publication Date
Document Type
Journal Article; Lay Publication
Fiscal Year
Issue of Publication
NIOSH Division
SIC Code
Source Name
Proceedings of the Marine Safety & Security Council
Page last reviewed: September 2, 2020
Content source: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Education and Information Division