Center for Maritime Safety and Health Studies


The NIOSH Center for Maritime Safety and Health Studies (CMSHS) conducts and supports research to improve safety and health for maritime workers, which are found in every U.S. state and across multiple industry sectors.

Featured Items

Understanding Health Behaviors and Conditions among Maritime Workers

NIOSH researchers recently published an analysis of 2014-2018 results from the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System, a CDC telephone survey that collects state-based information about health-related behavior, long-term illness, and healthcare use. With this information, they calculated the estimated frequency of several health-related conditions which can increase the risk of injury, illness, and death, between maritime and other workers. In addition, they calculated the estimated frequency of flu shots and health insurance coverage. Compared with workers in other industries, maritime workers were more likely to report certain health-related conditions.

Fishing Safety Success Stories

NIOSH Fishing Safety has created four safety training videos focusing on the real-life stories of fishermen who found themselves in a dangerous situation, but were able to avoid tragedy by using safety training and equipment. These videos cover man overboard and deck safety topics and are geared towards anyone working in and around the water


The NIOSH Center for Maritime Safety and Health Studies (CMSHS) serves as a hub for NIOSH and external researchers to work together, while developing research partnerships with industry, academia, labor, government agencies, and safety organizations throughout the U.S. and the world. Supporting the 400,000 workers employed in U.S. maritime industries, CMSHS addresses the unique occupational safety and health hazards within the maritime industries through the following four research objectives: prevent work-related fatalities in maritime industries; prevent vessel casualties (e.g., collisions, capsizings, sinkings, explosions); prevent illness and non-fatal injury from occupational hazards; and assess and promote effective safety and health programs that address hazards associated with a workplace having multiple employers and work arrangements, multi-language work settings, fatigue, and stress.

The CMSHS has identified six maritime industries and one maritime occupation with higher injury/illness and fatality rates than others as research priority areas including: shipyards, marine terminals and port operations, marine transportation, seafood processing, commercial fishing, aquaculture, and commercial diving. These worksites pose unique challenges as many are small businesses with few or seasonal employees, are in remote locations, and in some settings, maritime employees live and work aboard vessels. The CMSHS contributes to the following NIOSH Strategic Plan for FYs 2019-2024 goals that will help reduce injuries and illness among maritime workers

Average Annual U.S. Maritime Employment and Fatal/Nonfatal Injury and Illness Rates, 2011-20171
  NAICS or SOC2 U.S. Employment3 U.S. Fatality rate per 100,000 workers4 U.S. Nonfatal injury/illness rate per 100,000 workers5
Ship and boat building 3366 164,630 4.0 5,369.8
Marine terminals and port operations 4883 98,267 15.9 4916.0
Water transportation 483 67,532 18.4 2,326.7
Seafood processing 3117 36,880 6.3 6,670.2
Commercial fishing SOC 45-3011 33,917 93.0 441.8
Aquaculture 1125 6,627 18.9 5,237.4
Commercial diving SOC 49-9092 3,509 158.9 1,867.4
  1. Fatal and nonfatal injury and illness rates may be inflated due to undercounting of total workers in some industries/occupations. Traditionally, maritime workers have been undercounted by the Bureau of Labor Statistics due to the remoteness of job location, part-time or temporary nature of the work, overlap with other industries/occupations, and other factors.
  2. NAICS is the North American Industry Classification System and SOC is the Standard Occupational Classification.
  3. Worker counts are based on the Bureau of Labor Statistics six year average of workers, 2011–2017. Commercial fishing counts are from the Current Population Survey, commercial diving counts are from Occupational Employment and Wages tables, and all others are from the Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages.
  4. Fatality rates are based on six year averages from the Bureau of Labor Statistics Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries, 2011–2017.
  5. Nonfatal injury and illness rates are based on six year averages of Bureau of Labor Statistics Survey of Occupational Injuries and Illnesses, 2011–2017.
Research Priorities

Current focus areas include:

  • Investigate commercial fishing and seafood processing workers’ safety, health, and well-being, including studying occupational health inequities
  • Designing engineering controls to prevent winch entanglements on commercial fishing vessels, and promote their adoption
  • Analyzing factors associated with vessel casualties and disasters to identify prevention strategies
  • Assessing exposures to shipyard workers who remove vessel coatings

The CMSHS contributes to the following NIOSH Strategic Plan for FYs 2019-2024 goals that will help reduce injuries and illness among maritime workers:”


The Center for Maritime Safety and Health Studies (CMSHS) Program Performance One-Pager (PPOP) offers a snapshot of NIOSH programs’ priorities, strategies used to make progress towards priorities, recent accomplishments, and upcoming work.

To learn more

Resources related to maritime industries such as publications, guidance documents and various hazards relevant to the maritime industries can be found on the Maritime Workplace Safety & Health Topic Page 

Contact the Center for Maritime Safety and Health Studies with any questions at

Page last reviewed: March 14, 2022