Non-Fatal Injuries among Commercial Fishing Workers in Alaska, Washington, and Oregon

This project addresses a high hazard occupation where information on non-fatal (but serious) injuries are limited. This pilot estimates non-fatal injuries among commercial fishermen, describes high-risk work processes, and identifies particularly vulnerable worker populations, such as young workers.

Commercial fishing is the most hazardous occupation in the United States, as measured by fatality data. In a review of commercial fishery fatality data in NIOSH’s Commercial Fishing Incident Database (CFID) during 2000-2009, 504 commercial fishing deaths occurred in the U.S. The Bureau of Labor Statistics’ (BLS) Survey of Occupational Injuries and Illnesses (SOII) contains nonfatal injury and illness data, but does not include data on self-employed fishermen, who comprise a substantial part of the workforce. This study reviewed US Coast Guard (USCG) investigations of all reported nonfatal, traumatic injuries to workers onboard commercial fishing and fish processing vessels operating in Alaska during 2012-2014, and in Washington, Oregon, and California during 2002–2014.

This study demonstrated the feasibility of utilizing CFID and epidemiologic analytical methods for continued nonfatal injury surveillance in the commercial fishing industry to assess hazards and evaluate safety programs or initiatives. An analytical database was developed to assist injury prevention researchers and commercial fishing stakeholders in identifying specific needs and prevention strategies. A new NIOSH-funded PNA HS project was awarded to develop this tool, led by Dr. Laurel Kincl at Oregon State University in a 5-year grant, entitled Safety Surveillance for Pacific Northwest Fisheries.

Principal InvestigatorLaurel Kincl, PhD, MS
Associate Professor, Environmental and Occupational Health
Oregon State University

PNASH Pilot Project 2014-2016

Partners and Advisories

NIOSH Western States Division
U.S. Coast Guard
Case S, Bovbjerg V, Lucas D, Syron L, Kincl L. Reported traumatic injuries among West Coast Dungeness crab fishermen, 2002-2014. Int Marit Health. 2015;66(4):207-10. doi: 10.5603/IMH.2015.0041. PubMed PMID: 26726891; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC4704689.
Syron LN, Lucas DL, Bovbjerg VE, Bethel JW, Kincl LD. Utility of a Work Process Classification System for characterizing non-fatal injuries in the Alaskan commercial fishing industry. Int J Circumpolar Health. 2016 Jan 14;75:30070. doi: 10.3402/ijch.v75.30070. eCollection 2016. PubMed PMID: 26782030; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC4717151.
Kincl LD. Injuries among Dungeness crab fishermen examined. Press Release, Oregon State University Newsroom. 2016