The National Institute For Occupational Safety and Health is reminding commercial fishermen to look at the growing number of personal floatation devices being designed for their comfort and wearability and wear them every time they are on deck.
“There are enough PFDs out there to find one that works for you, “ Ted Teske, a NIOSH health communications specialist, told commercial harvesters and vessel owners at a fishing vessel safety forum this past week during Kodiak’s annual ComFish gathering.
NIOSH has had no trouble finding fishermen willing to participate in studies to determine which of the designs worked best for them on the job. “There was an overwhelming desire from fishermen to participate,” Teske said. “They did not know about the PFDs. “The fishermen were very willing to provide input on work gear designed for them.”
Some producers of rain gear are also starting to incorporate PFDs right into their products, he said. “And every one of the PFDs tested made somebody’s top three.”
Jennifer Lincoln, of the NIOSH commercial fishing research and design program, addressed the ComFish audience on the agency’s studies on work related illness, injury and deaths at sea.
“We do a lot of surveillance of fatalities in the fishing industry,” said Lincoln. “We collect information to look for patterns, causes. If we understand risks and contributing factors, we an figure out ways to stop them.”
This information is kept in a commercial fishing incident database about events, people involved, victims, survivors and vessels.
The focus this year is on preventing fatalities due to falls overboard, Lincoln said, noting the high fatality rate in Alaska salmon fisheries, of which 58 percent of deaths were in set net skiffs.
Every vessel should have some type of PFD policy, she said. “What is your PFD policy? Have you found a PFD that works for you?”