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Fatal Falls Overboard in Commercial Fishing — United States, 2000–2016
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Details:
  • Pubmed ID:
    29698380
  • Pubmed Central ID:
    PMC5919605
  • Description:
    Commercial fishing is one of the most dangerous jobs in the United States, with a 2016 work-related fatality rate (86.0 deaths per 100,000 full-time equivalent workers) 23 times higher than that for all U.S. workers (3.6) (1). Sinking vessels cause the most fatalities in the industry; however, falling from a fishing vessel is a serious hazard responsible for the second highest number of commercial fishing-associated fatalities (2,3). CDC's National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) analyzed data on unintentional fatal falls overboard in the U.S. commercial fishing industry to identify gaps in the use of primary, secondary, and tertiary prevention strategies. During 2000-2016, a total of 204 commercial fishermen died after unintentionally falling overboard. The majority of falls (121; 59.3%) were not witnessed, and 108 (89.3%) of these victims were not found. Among 83 witnessed falls overboard, 56 rescue attempts were made; 22 victims were recovered but were not successfully resuscitated. The circumstances, rescue attempts, and limited use of lifesaving and recovery equipment indicate that efforts to reduce these preventable fatalities are needed during pre-event, event, and post-event sequences of falls overboard. Vessel owners could consider strategies to prevent future fatalities, including lifeline tethers, line management, personal flotation devices (PFDs), man-overboard alarms, recovery devices, and rescue training.

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