commercial fishing workplace hazards

Workplace Hazards for Commercial Fishermen

Commercial fishermen enjoy active, physically demanding work that often pays competitively. However, this career path can also be quite dangerous. Fishermen face a much higher-than-average injury and fatality rates when compared to other industries, so with any fishing excursion, there is always a risk that it could be the end of someone’s career.

If you’ve been injured while working as a commercial fisherman, it’s important to understand your rights and learn about the compensation you can receive. Call Fuquay Law Firm today at 251-219-0329 to schedule a consultation.

Dangers Faced by Commercial Fishermen

The work conditions of commercial fishermen are virtually unknown to anyone outside this industry. Danger lurks around every corner. Some of the most common sources of injury for commercial fishermen include:

  • Commercial boats rely on complex machinery to manage daily work, and when this machinery is used unsafely or malfunctions, it’s often fishermen who pay the price.
  • This includes falls on deck, which may occur when the boat hits turbulent waters or a fisherman slips, and falls overboard, which can result in hypothermia or drowning.
  • Explosions can occur as a result of malfunctioning equipment or chemical reactions. However, they put everyone on board at risk of serious injuries and death.
  • Cold water shock. A fisherman encountering colder-than-expected waters or left in the water for too long can suffer from cold water shock, which can kill you as your limbs become incapacitated and hypothermia sets in.
  • Capsizing and collision. This is a risk of any work aboard a vessel, and even strong swimmers can find themselves unable to hold on long enough to be rescued.
  • Commercial fishermen may cut themselves on sharp bits of fish bone, leaving them exposed to infection from bugs and fish. Unless treated promptly, infections can spread and become serious.
  • Exposure to chemicals used aboard fishing vessels can cause serious illness over time.
  • Loud noises. While loud noises are unlikely to cause fatal injuries, they can do enough damage to the ears that fishermen may suffer permanent hearing loss.

Uncontrollable Dangers

Some dangers cannot be predicted or controlled, thanks to Mother Nature. Fishermen who find themselves working during a storm, in extreme hot or cold temperatures, or in dangerously windy conditions are at even higher risk of severe injuries.

Safety Tips for Commercial Fishermen

While you can never fully eliminate risk in the workplace, there are things that fishermen and other seamen can do to protect themselves. Use these safety tips to make each day out on the water less risky:

  • Be aware of weather conditions before going out on a trip. Plan for every possible outcome, even if the weather seems like it will be mild for the duration of the trip.
  • Know how to use all of the safety equipment aboard the vessel you’re working on. Additionally, review the locations of first aid kits and other tools you’ll need to handle minor injuries and illnesses.
  • Review safety protocols of a vessel before going aboard. Don’t stray from these protocols, even if pressured to by other seamen working with you. This is how injuries happen.

What to Do If You Get Hurt at Work

No matter how careful you are, injuries do happen at sea. When they do, it’s crucial to know your rights and take the right steps to protect them.

First, you should report the injury to your immediate superior. You may have to sign paperwork describing the injury and how it occurred. It’s also important to seek medical care right away. This might mean seeing a doctor once the boat docks, or it might mean having a doctor come to the boat if your injury is serious enough.

After that, talk to an attorney with experience in maritime law and the Jones Act. Commercial fishermen do not have access to the same workers’ compensation benefits as those who work in other industries, but they are entitled to maintenance and cure under general maritime law and the Jones Act.

Choose Fuquay Law Firm for Your Workplace Injury Claim

If you’ve been injured while working aboard a vessel, you may be entitled to maintenance and cure. Learn more about your options and how to get the compensation you deserve by calling Fuquay Law Firm. You can contact us online or give us a call at 251-219-0329 to set up your consultation.

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