According to a report by NPR, fishing continued to be the deadliest occupation for workers in the United States, accounting for 121.2 fatalities for every 100,000 workers in 2011.
According to statistics by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, fishing continues to remain the most dangerous occupation in the country, even though the number of fishermen who died in the workplace has actually dropped by almost 50% since 2009. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, most fishermen fatalities occurred from drowning when the boat capsized.
The Northeast fishery happens to be the deadliest fishery in the country, closely followed by the Atlantic scallops. According to a study by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, about 70% of commercial fishing-related fatalities in the Northeast fishery and Atlantic Scallops occurred soon after accidents, like a fire on the vessel, the vessel capsizing or sinking.
The rest of the fatalities occurred due to injuries onboard the vessel or falling overboard. Most cases of crew members falling overboard were linked to being struck by heavy overboard equipment.
The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health also uncovered a fact that maritime lawyers find very disturbing – none of the crewmembers who were killed after they fell overboard were wearing a life jacket. In fact, lack of adherence to safety precautions seems to be the number one reason why there are so many fatalities in this industry. The high fatality rates in the fishing industry have existed for years, and regulations now require fishing boats to come with lifeboats, personal protection equipment and other devices.
However, the Coast Guard does not mandate seaworthiness inspections of fishing vessels, while it does so for passenger ferries as well as well as other commercial vessels. That means unsafe conditions on a fishing vessel may not be discovered until a tragedy occurs.