Is it safe on deck? Fatal and non-fatal workplace injuries among Alaskan commercial fishermen

Am J Ind Med. 2001 Dec;40(6):693-702. doi: 10.1002/ajim.10010.


Background: Commercial fishing in Alaska accounts for an occupational fatality rate that is 28 times the rate for all U.S. workers. Most deaths are attributed to vessel sinking or capsizing. However, many deaths and most non-fatal injuries are not related to vessel loss. This paper describes injuries that occur on the dock or on the fishing vessel.

Methods: Data from fishing fatalities and non-fatal injuries between 1991-1998 were analyzed using the Alaska Occupational Injury Surveillance System and the Alaska Trauma Registry.

Results: There were 60 workplace deaths unrelated to vessel loss; most from falls overboard, others from trauma caused by equipment on deck. There were 574 hospitalized injuries, often from falls on deck, entanglement in machinery, or being struck by an object.

Summary: Fishing boats are hazardous working environments. Further efforts are required to prevent falls overboard and on deck, and to redesign or install safety features on fishing machinery and equipment.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Accidental Falls / prevention & control
  • Accidental Falls / statistics & numerical data*
  • Accidents, Occupational / mortality*
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Alaska / epidemiology
  • Cause of Death*
  • Child
  • Female
  • Fisheries*
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Occupational Health*
  • Registries
  • Risk Assessment
  • Risk Factors
  • Wounds and Injuries / epidemiology
  • Wounds and Injuries / mortality*