Commercial fishing vessel crew members may be at risk of different types of injuries that include falling over board and drowning in a capsized vessel. However, a significant percentage of fatal injuries in the United States in 2011 involved fishermen who were injured by onboard machinery, like winches. In fact, such fatalities were extremely common in the Gulf of Mexico.

According to a report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention , commercial fishing vessel crew members in the United States had a fatality rate that was nearly 35 times higher than the rate for all American workers in 2011. That isn’t exactly news for maritime lawyers, who know that this is the most deadly occupation in the country.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, between 2000 and 2009, 504 fishermen were killed in the commercial fishing vessel industry. The most common cause of death was drowning with 51% of crew fatalities occurring when the vessel capsized. 30% of the fatalities occurred when the fishing vessel crew member fell overboard. 10% of the fatalities, or 51 fatalities were caused by machinery-entanglement injuries sustained on the vessel.

Fishermen in the Gulf of Mexico were most likely to die from getting entangled in machinery. Between 2000 and 2011, there were 8 fatalities and 27 work-related injuries that were caused by deck winches, in the Southern shrimp fleet. This fleet operates in the Gulf Of Mexico as well as off the Florida and North Carolina coast.

The most common injuries involved the winch cat head. Most fatalities occurred when the fisherman was alone with the winch on the deck. The CDC recommends avoiding wearing baggy clothing, guarding the winch drums and avoiding working alone to prevent such injuries.