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May 24th, 2013

Better Knowledge of Ergonomics Could Help Prevent Fishing Boat-Related Injuries

Every maritime attorney knows that a commercial fishing vessel crew member’s job is one of the most dangerous jobs in the world. A fishing boat crewmember is exposed to a number of hazards every day on the job. However, many of these risks could be reduced if there is better attention paid to the way in which these workers use occupational tools.

The Alaska Marine Safety Education Association has undertaken a new safety initiative that aims at preventing injuries in the commercial fishing industry, by improving the way in which workers use tools. The initiative is being funded by a $100,000 grant by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.

There is no doubt that there is an urgent need for an initiative like this. The Alaska Fisherman’s Fund estimates that as many as 40% of all maritime injury claims in the commercial fishing industry are related to injuries sustained while performing tasks that are frequently performed by workers in this job.

Many crew members perform frequent and heavy lifting, carrying, loading, unloading pushing and pulling activities. Very often, these activities are performed over a long period of time, resulting in strains and sprains, which if ignored can lead to long-term musculoskeletal conditions. As a result, commercial fishing vessel crew members frequently suffer from conditions like carpal tunnel syndrome, tendinitis, shoulder pain, and back pain that significantly reduce their quality of life.

The Alaska Marine Safety Education Association wants to use the OSHA funds to develop tools that make it easier for commercial fishing vessel crew members to perform these activities without excessive stress and strain.

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