Session 1B – Understanding Injury in the Fishing Sector

Monday, June 11, 9:00am–10:30am, Arts and Administration Building, Room A1046

1B.1  Injury and injury treatment in US west coast Dungeness crab fishingViktor Bovbjerg, Laurel Kincl, Kaety Jacobson, Amelia Vaughan, and Sabrina Pillai, Oregon State University; Devin Lucas, U.S. National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (Presentation slides).

Background: Historically, injury surveillance in US fisheries has relied heavily on vessel casualty and disaster reports from the US Coast Guard. These reports are invaluable, but are likely to preferentially identify more serious injuries.

Methods: To describe the range of commercial fishing injuries, we conducted a pre-season survey of Dungeness crab fishermen in the US states of Washington, Oregon, and California. We characterized injuries and injury treatment, and contrasted treatment by whether or not injuries limited work. Treatments were classified as none, first aid (i.e. self- or crew-care only), clinical care (any clinical care short of emergency care), and emergency care (e.g. Coast Guard medical evacuation).

Results: Of 426 respondents, 91 (21.3%) reported a fishing-related injury during the previous 12 months; 50 of the 91 injuries (54.9%) were reported as limiting work activity (i.e. modification or cessation of work). Injuries included 38 sprains/strains/bruises, 26 lacerations/puncture wounds, 9 fractures, 2 burns, 2 hernias, and 11 “other” injuries; incidents with multiple injuries (e.g. fracture with puncture wound) were classified in every category that applied. Injury treatment was classified as “none” for 35 injuries (38.5%), 1st aid for 32 (35.2%), clinical care for 17 (18.7%), and emergency care for 3 (3.3%). Unsurprisingly, injuries classified as receiving no care were less likely to be limiting (14, 40.0%) than those receiving care (34, 66.7%; χ2=6.0, p=0.014).

Conclusions: On our survey, approximately 1 in 5 Dungeness crab fishermen reported an injury during the previous year. Consistent with findings in other occupations, the majority of injuries were of relatively low acuity and required no more than first aid. Over half, however, resulted in at least temporary work limitation, and 1 in 5 received clinical care. Injury surveillance systems that capture multiple sources of data are likely to paint the most representative picture of commercial fishing injuries.


1B.2  Factors associated with crewmember survival of cold water immersion due to commercial fishing vessel sinkings in AlaskaSamantha Case, Devin Lucas, Jennifer Lincoln, and Joanna Watson, U.S. National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) (Presentation slides).

Background: While policies and targeted safety initiatives have contributed to improved safety in the US fishing industry, occupational fatality surveillance has identified that fishing vessel disasters, such as sinkings and capsizings, continue to result in the most deaths among crewmembers. When a fishing vessel sinks at sea, crewmembers are at risk of immersion in water and subsequent drowning.

Methods: This study examined survival factors for crewmembers following cold water immersion after the sinking of decked commercial fishing vessels in Alaskan waters during 2000–2014. Victim and survivor data were obtained from the Commercial Fishing Incident Database (CFID). Two immersion scenarios were considered separately: immersion for any length of time, and long-term immersion lasting over 30 minutes. Logistic regression was used to predict the odds of crewmember survival.

Results: Of the 617 crewmembers onboard 187 fishing vessels that sank in Alaska during 2000–2014, 557 (90.3%) survived and 60 died. Nearly half of crewmembers with known immersion data were able to avoid immersion completely by abandoning to land or rescue platforms (e.g., helicopter, other vessel), and all but one survived. For crewmembers immersed for any length of time, the significant adjusted predictors of survival were: entering a life-raft, sinking within three miles of shore, the sinking not being weather-related, and working as a deckhand. For crewmembers immersed for over 30 minutes, the significant adjusted predictors of survival were: wearing an immersion suit, entering a life-raft, working as a deckhand, and the sinking not being weather-related.

Conclusions: Primary prevention efforts should focus on vessel stability, watertight integrity, and safety management systems. However, in the event of a vessel sinking, the results of this analysis demonstrate that in situations where cold water immersion becomes inevitable, having access to well-maintained, serviceable lifesaving equipment and the knowledge and skills to use it properly are critical.


1B.3  Health and safety in crab fishingLeonore Olsen, SINTEF Nord; Trine Thorvaldsen, SINTEF Ocean; Ingunn Marie Holmen, SINTEF Ocean; Ingeborg Ratvik, SINTEF Ocean; Leif Grimsmo, SINTEF Ocean

Background and objective: The snow crab fisheries has for many years been important in Russia, USA and Canada. In recent years, some Norwegian vessels have started fishing for snow crab in the Barents Sea. The fishery for snow crab involves using pots, which historically is not a common fishing gear in the Norwegian deep-sea fishing fleet. In a research project aimed at developing new methods of production and new technological concepts, one objective is the elimination of unacceptable risk for crewmembers related to direct injuries as well as long term. Based on this, the presentation focuses on health and safety challenges as well as suggested improvements.

Methods: Two surveys were conducted amongst crewmembers on one crab vessel with a factory on board. Researchers also participated and observed work at sea, analyzed film material, interviewed the skipper and got input from a physical therapist in order to gain knowledge of potential risks and areas in need of improvement.

Results: The crew on board is young, with a high interest for fishing. They enjoy themselves at work and are positive to recommending crab fishing to others. Both in the factory and on deck several challenges related to safety and ergonomics were identified. Crew perform dangerous work operations and injuries involving fingers are common. Sufficient training has not been given to all crew members. Fishers in the factory perform physically straining work, with heavy lifting, pushing and pulling. For fishers on deck, the work is also straining and involves repetitive motions. The presentation will elaborate on these findings, as well as suggestions for improvements.

Conclusions: Due to high risk operations and work strain, there is need for several improvements to make Norwegian crab fishing safer for workers.


1B.4  Dive into the dangerous for a prosperous life : A case study from the sea cucumber fishing industry of Sri LankaGaneshan Nishanthan and D.C.T. Dissanayke, University of Sri Jayewardenepura, Gangodawila, Nugegoda, Sri Lanka

The sea cucumber fishery has been practiced for several centuries in Sri Lanka. This study evaluates the different methods used to collect sea cucumbers and health issues faced by fishers in northern Sri Lanka using the data collected from September 2015 to October 2016 through direct observations, questionnaires and interviews. Sea cucumbers are collected primarily by SCUBA diving (56.72%), Snorkeling (34.33%) and Gleaning (4.48%). Gleaning is entirely carried out by fisherwomen and their average monthly income is US$ 50.00 ± 20.50. Normally 2 to 3 divers are onboard when SCUBA diving is carried out, but 5-7 divers are onboard when they do snorkeling. An average daily income of a snorkeling diver is US$ 11.90 ± 7.61. 4-5 cylinders are used by each SCUBA diver during a fishing trip and true fishing time varies from 30 to 45 minutes per tank. Both day and night diving are carried out by SCUBA divers and there are differences in fishing depth. Night fishing generates higher daily income (US$ 23.74 ± 11.90) than day diving (US$ 21.50 ± 10.34). Although there are training facilities available for SCUBA divers, only 10.5% have professional training and paddy license. As a result of deep diving (20.18 ± 8.90m) SCUBA divers are facing more severe health related issues than gleaning and snorkeling fishers. It was found that 10.5% of SCUBA divers have experienced decompression sickness (bends) which affects the central nervous system, and can make them disabled at least once in their lifetime, and may even lead to death. According to fishers interviewed there is only a 10-20% chance to recover in such cases if proper treatment is given on time. However, due to lack of training and knowledge, most of the fishers become paralyzed or lose their lives. Therefore, there is a timely need to train sea cucumber fishers through several programs in order to act properly during health-related issues.


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