In commercial fishing, lives have been lost and lifejackets not worn. The lives lost impact coastal communities and families. Vessel disasters and falls overboard account for most deaths. From 2000-2018 there were ninety-three fishermen who died in Washington and Oregon. Only five were wearing a lifejacket and of them, three were not wearing it properly. Weather decisions, navigation, vessel stability, as well as other prevention strategies are important to reduce vessel disasters. Well-maintained and functional safety gear including a lifejacket, are also essential to fully reduce the burden of injury and death.
The success of the “Lifejackets for Lobstermen” program in New England led to this project to fill a regional need. We expect advances in lifejacket design to address some of the barriers fishermen have to wearing them while working (comfort, for example) and to improve the flotation and survivability when worn. We aim to investigate:
- If a regional mobile program with lifejacket education, trials, and discounts will promote the purchase and use of lifejackets of fishermen.
- If measuring regional adaptations to the program can identify guidelines to help other health and safety programs transfer well to help other populations.
We will collect fishermen’s views and experiences related to vessel safety including the use of lifejackets. We will use the fishermen’s input to adapt a region-specific program that we will operate to sell lifejackets to fishermen. We will compare our adapted program with the original one in New England. Our program to bring education and access to lifejackets direct to the ports has the potential to shift the safety and health practices of fishermen. With the success of the program, we can prove that commercial fishing does not have to be one of the most dangerous occupations.
Principal Investigator: Laurel Kincl, Associate Professor, Associate Dean for Academic and Faculty Affairs, Oregon State University
NIOSH Funding Period 2022-2027