Does working on a commercial fishing vessel or learning to pilot one seem idyllic? It might, if you love the ocean and being outdoors. If you focus on the sunrise over the ocean or the crisp sea air, danger may never enter your mind.
But in fact, people who have jobs on commercial fishing vessels work in one of the most hazardous jobs in the country. They are 29 times more likely to die from injuries and accidents related to their occupation than workers in other fields. The hours can be very long and the conditions under which they work difficult. Weather or a damaged vessel may compromise their safety.
These are 3 of the most dangerous jobs in the maritime industry:
- Commercial fisherman
- Deckhand aboard a commercial fishing vessel
- Water transportation worker
According to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), 42 workers on commercial fishing boats lost their lives every year between 2000 and 2015.
In terms of averages, that equates to 117 deaths for every 100,000 workers. The U.S. total for fatalities related to jobs, for all workers? Only 4 deaths for every 100,000 workers, on average.
Fishing vessel fatalities
These statistics make vividly clear how dangerous life on a fishing vessel can be.
- Close to half of all the deaths during the period happened as a result of a vessel disaster, such as a sinking or disabled ship. This was by far the leading cause of death. Fifty-five percent of vessel disasters that resulted in a death were caused by weather.
- Thirty percent of deaths were caused by a worker falling overboard.
- Twelve percent occurred as a result of an onboard injury.
- Nine percent happened as a result of diving or onboard injury.
As a result, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and NIOSH have a very active safety program to curb the number of deaths.
Safety programs can have a measurable impact on safety — no worker who died by being swept overboard was wearing a flotation device, for example. But even one death is too many.
What legal protections do commercial fishermen have from dangerous and hazardous conditions? The law is complex, but there are two overarching forms of protection.
The first is common law, which mandates that the owners of a ship guarantee its sea-worthiness. It must be able to weather any dangers that can be reasonably expected, such as high winds and crashing waves while far out at sea.
The second is the Jones Act. This allows seamen to claim damages for personal injury in a way similar to the civil lawsuits brought for any other personal injury, but the suits are brought under admiralty regulations and rules.
Experienced Commercial Fishing Injury Attorneys on Long Island
If you or a loved one has been injured or killed in an accident related to commercial fishing, call an experienced Long Island maritime attorney at Edelman, Krasin & Jaye today. Our initial consultation costs you nothing. We will fight for your rights to maximum compensation under the law!
Other Resources on the Dangers of Commercial Fishing:
- United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Commercial Fishing Safety. https://www.cdc.gov/niosh/topics/fishing/
- United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH). Commercial Fishing Safety. https://www.cdc.gov/niosh/topics/fishing/nationaloverview.html.
- United States Department of Labor. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Occupational Outlook Handbook. Water Transportation Workers. https://www.bls.gov/ooh/transportation-and-material-moving/water-transportation-occupations.htm.