Objectives Quantitative risk assessments for commercial fishing fleets can inform safety requirements and voluntary programs. In collaboration with the United States Coast Guard (USCG) and surveillance data provided by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) we have analysed fatal and non-fatal injuries and vessel disasters.
Methods Washington, Oregon and California commercial fishing data from 2002–2014 are included. Data on vessel disasters and fatalities were collected by a NIOSH surveillance program. Non-fatal injury data were abstracted from USCG investigation reports and then coded and entered into a study database. Location, weather, factors, demographics, work process, injury characteristic, and vessel details were included in the database. Descriptive analysis was performed to identify risk factors.
Results During the study period, 101 fatal and 208 non-fatal injuries were reported. In the same period, 184 commercial fishing vessel disasters occurred on the US West Coast resulting in 66 fatal and 28 non-fatal injuries out of 493 total crewmembers onboard. In addition to vessel disasters, falls overboard accounted for 22 fatalities and 3 reported nonfatal injuries. The groundfish and shellfish fisheries suffered the most fatal (23 and 38, respectively) and non-fatal injuries (93 and 55). The majority of non-fatal injuries occurred onboard (81%) and the highest risk work tasks associated varied by specific fishery and gear type. For the Pacific whiting fishery, processing the catch and handling frozen fish, and for Dungeness crab, hauling pots accounted for the most injuries.
Conclusion Fatality and vessel disaster data are reliably collected through NIOSH surveillance. Non-fatal injury data reported to the USCG is limited. Our results are currently being used in a regional risk assessment to inform the industry and USCG for developing safety programs. Other sources of data should be explored for ongoing research and monitoring of such programs and for the industry.
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