Research from NIOSH helps reduce fatalities in commercial fishing industry

A new report written by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) states that research conducted by the federally funded agency has helped to reduce commercial fishing industry fatalities by 42 percent.

NIOSH first started working to improve conditions in Alaska in 1990, as commercial fishing had long held the title of the deadliest occupation. Workers are continually threatened by environmental conditions, slip and trip hazards, injuries due to contact from gear entanglement, and falls overboard.

The research shows from 2000 to 2010 the fatality rate for fishers was 124 per 100,000, compared to 4 per 100,000 for all other occupations. The two leading causes of death are vessel disasters and falling overboard. To improve safety, NIOSH began by focusing on industry-specific hazards and expanded its research to specific regional hazards for the rest of the country to be included in a new Commercial Fishing Incident Database.

This research was later used by the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) during the Fishing Vessel Safety Forum, which cited the research during the event, to improve safety in the commercial fishing industry. Ensure your crew wears safety equipment required by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), such as personal flotation devices (PFDs) to help protect them from commercial fishing hazards. 

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