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The perfect fit? Study asks commercial fishermen to rate floatation devices

The Bureau of Labor Statistics released some very interesting information this past summer concerning the most dangerous professions in the United States. Here, the agency examined data from 2010 -- the most recent year for which such data is available -- and determined that fishing was the most deadly occupation in the country, with an altogether shocking fatality rate of 116 per 100,000 workers.

This is not altogether surprising given that commercial fisherman must contend with poor weather, dangerous equipment and transportation accidents. What is surprising, however, is that a shocking number of these fisherman died because they weren't wearing personal floating devices. To illustrate, statistics show that over 180 commercial fisherman who weren't wearing the necessary safety equipment drowned between 2000 and 2011.

In the hopes of getting more commercial fisherman to wear their personal flotation devices, the Alaska Pacific Office of the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health recently commissioned a study in which they asked industry insiders to identify those floatation devices that were the most comfortable and the most acceptable.

Specifically, the Alaska NIOSH office asked approximately 200 commercial fisherman drawn from an assortment of groups -- crabbers, trawlers, longliners and gillnetters -- to test out one of six types of personal floatation devices for a span of one month while working on deck.

Here, the personal floatation devices included inflatable and foam devices, both of which were either incorporated by the fisherman into their regular rain gear or worn over it.

After the month was up, the Alaska NIOSH office published the evaluations of the fishermen on their website so that those who may be otherwise reluctant to purchase a personal floatation device can simply log on and see what their fellow fisherman recommend.

In other words, the website helps eliminate much of the guesswork, which in turn makes people more likely to purchase safety equipment.

"Check out the gear specific evaluations on the NIOSH website, visit your local marine safety trainer to see what varieties they have, ask around the dock to see what others are using," said NIOSH. "Fishery supply shops carry a variety of models and can order ones they may not have in stock."

The researchers also encouraged commercial fishermen to not only read the reviews, but also to consider whether the personal floatation device they select can withstand the rigors of their particular circumstances.

Stay tuned for further developments in the area of workers' compensation defense law ...

This post was provided for informational purposes only and is not to be construed as legal advice.


Risk & Insurance, "Study: Commercial fishermen evaluate flotation devices for proper fit, function," March 25, 2013

Yahoo! Finance, "The 10 most dangerous jobs in the U.S.," Travers Korch, June 4, 2012

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