Building a Safer Fishing Industry: “Safety Is No Accident”
Since the 1980s, more fishermen are killed on the job than any employees of any other industry in Alaska.
This week, KTVA CBS 11 news is partnering up with the Alaska Department of Health and Social Services for National Public Health week.
This year's theme: “Safety is No Accident.” Each night, KTVA CBS 11 News’ broadcasts will highlight a different topic and educate viewers how to better protect themselves and their loved ones.
During the 1980s, Alaska led the nation with the highest rate of workplace fatalities with especially high numbers in the fishing industry.
To this day, more fishermen are killed on the job than any employees of any other industry in the state.
To counter the high number of workplace fatalities, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health began researching the fishing industry.
Researchers asked fishermen what their top safety concerns were to better identify solutions.
"One of the pieces of machinery that comes up often is the deck wench. The problem is they [fishermen] will get entangled in the line and are pulled toward the wench and pulled away from the controls so there is no way to stop it,” said Jennifer Lincoln of the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, “and that can lead to severe injuries and sometimes fatalities."
As a result, researchers created an E-stop that locks the wench and allows the fisherman to detangle him or herself safely.
But the biggest area of concern for fishermen was falls overboard.
Researchers looked at different types of personal floatation devices, such as a full-body suit, but fishermen disagreed on the ideal floatation devices.
"It's personal preference. I understand and they [fishermen] are very particular about what they wear when they work,” said Jennifer Lincoln of the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health. “This was highly rated by a lot of different fishing groups, gill-netters and long liners because it's a utility garment…it's rain gear…they are already wearing rain gear and this just adds some floatation for protection."