A new report released by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health provides the first baseline assessment of the hazards that workers in the distant-water tuna fleet face.
The institute found that, compared with most other fishing fleets in the United States, workers in this fleet are at high risk of suffering a fatal injury, with falls overboard being the leading cause of death. Workers also were at risk for non-fatal injuries, including head injuries, asphyxiation and finger amputations.
The institute, at the request of the Coast Guard, evaluated the distant-water tuna fleet to look at fatal and non-fatal traumatic injuries and provide recommendations for preventing future injuries and fatalities.
The fleet has grown significantly, from 14 vessels in 2006 to 39 in 2012. The report provides a baseline assessment of the current injury and fatality rates for the fleet, with the institute providing recommendations for employers and workers to improve safety.
The institute’s recommendations include wearing personal flotation devices and appropriate footwear when working on the vessels; conducting monthly emergency drills for responding to falls overboard; following proper procedures when entering confined spaces; and ensuring communication between a ship’s officers and crew during emergencies to prevent traumatic injuries to workers.
The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health is the federal agency that conducts research and makes recommendations for preventing work-related injuries, illnesses and deaths.