New NIOSH Report Outlines Hazards for Distant Water Tuna Fleet


May 28, 2014
NIOSH Update:

Press Contact: Christina Spring (202) 245-0633

A new report released by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) provides the first baseline assessment of the hazards faced by workers in the Distant Water Tuna Fleet. NIOSH found that, compared to most other fishing fleets in the U.S., workers in this fleet are at high risk of suffering a fatal injury, with falls overboard being the leading cause of death. Workers were also at risk for non-fatal injuries, including head injuries, asphyxiation and amputations of fingers.

NIOSH, by request of the U.S. Coast Guard, conducted this evaluation of the Distant Water Tuna Fleet to look at fatal and non-fatal traumatic injuries and provide recommendations for preventing future injuries and fatalities. The Distant Water Tuna Fleet size has grown significantly from 14 vessels in 2006 to a total of 39 vessels in 2012. The report provides a baseline assessment of the current injury and fatality rates for this fleet, with NIOSH providing specific recommendations for employers and workers to improve safety.

In the report, NIOSH provides a number of recommendations, including: wearing personal flotation devices and appropriate footwear when working on the vessels, conducting monthly emergency drills for responding to falls overboard, following proper procedures when entering confined spaces, and ensuring communication between ships officers and crew during emergencies to prevent traumatic injuries to workers.

The Distant Water Tune Fleet operates in remote locations, which makes rescue and medical response challenging. The NIOSH report helps to identify critical areas of concern for this fleet and makes recommendations that will help vessel owners make the necessary improvements to ensure the safety of the workers. NIOSH hopes to conduct a follow-up analysis in the future to determine if the recommendations were implemented and, if so, what impact they may have on fatality and injury rates for this fleet. The entire report can be viewed here.

NIOSH is the federal agency that conducts research and makes recommendations for preventing work-related injuries, illnesses and deaths. For More information

Page last reviewed: May 28, 2014