On the lists of the most dangerous occupations, commercial fishing often rises to the top. By better understanding the dangers of this maritime occupation we hope to help foster a safer environment for those who work in it.
Dangers come in many forms
Some of the most dangerous aspects of working in the commercial fishing industry include:
- Flooding: When storms rage on the seas or the hulls of fishing vessels rupture, flooding can ensue and everyone working on the boat is at risk of a drowning accident. These dangers can be compounded by negligent disregard for safety protocols.
- Waves crashing into the boat: The power of a wave washing over the deck can sweep an unsuspecting crew member into rough waters. Fishermen must remain attentive at all times for such dangers, but even the best prepared can be overcome by the power of rushing water.
- Equipment accidents: When winds are rough, rigging can sweep across the deck, striking crew members and causing serious head trauma and other injuries. Fires and explosions caused by defective equipment can also result in serious burn injuries.
- Strenuous labor: When you subtract all of the accident hazards, there is still the daily grind of hard physical labor. Commercial fishermen must constantly lift heavy equipment, bend, stoop and perform other difficult physical acts. The day-to-day toll of such activities can result in back injuries, repetitive stress injuries and other medical conditions that make it difficult to work.
When everyone involved in a fishing operation is aware of the dangers and follows safety protocols, it is possible to avoid some of these accident hazards. Sadly, however, this remains a very dangerous occupation and many are injured and killed every year working on fishing vessels.
A special area of law
If you work in the commercial fishing industry and have suffered an injury on the job, you have important legal rights that do not fall under traditional workers’ compensation laws. Make sure you consult with an attorney who is well versed in the Jones Act and other laws that apply to your unique industry.