Fatal and non-fatal work-related injuries onboard freezer-trawlers and freezer-longliners in Alaska : an in-depth evaluation Public Deposited

http://ir.library.oregonstate.edu/concern/graduate_thesis_or_dissertations/76537417s

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  • Vessel disasters (e.g., vessels capsizing, sinking, grounding, burning) are the leading contributor to occupational fatalities in the U.S. commercial fishing industry. Vessel disasters are a vital area to target prevention efforts, yet it has been suggested that results produced in scientific studies are not efficiently exchanged between researchers, regulatory bodies and the fishing industry, demonstrating a potential deficiency in translating research into practice. Translational research is a process for developing evidence-based interventions and implementing them in practice. A comprehensive search of the English language literature on the topic of occupational safety in the fishing industry was completed to organize the literature within the phases of translational research. The bulk of research has focused on descriptive epidemiology in the initial discovery phase of translational research. A positive trend is the growing emphasis on studies that aim to move research-to-practice. Examining the literature in this way allowed for the development of recommendations for future translational research. These recommendations include using consistent methods of injury investigation, classification and risk analysis, developing interventions targeted at specific problems in the highest-risk fisheries, and addressing the barriers and facilitators to widespread implementation of interventions. The translational research model was applied to two studies involving freezer-trawl (FT) and freezer-longline (FL) vessels in Alaska. The first study assessed the risk of traumatic injuries to workers on FT and FL vessels, and the second evaluated a safety intervention. Traumatic occupational injuries onboard vessels in the FT and FL fleets operating in Alaska during 2001-2012 were identified through two government data sources. There were 712 injuries reported. The annual risk of fatal injuries was 125 per 100,000 FTEs in the FT fleet, and 63 per 100,000 FTEs in the FL fleet. The annual risk of non-fatal injuries was 43 per 1,000 FTEs in the FT fleet and 35 per 1,000 FTEs in the FL fleet. The majority of injuries in the FT fleet involved fish processors in the factories and freezer holds, whereas the most common injuries in the FL fleet involved deckhands working directly with the longline fishing gear. The findings confirmed that workers in those fleets were at high risk for work-related injuries. It is recommended that future injury prevention efforts focus on removing hazards in the work processes injuring the most workers. Primary injury prevention strategies are needed to improve worker safety in the fishing industry by reducing the occurrence of vessel disasters. In 2006, the United States Coast Guard (USCG) implemented a novel safety intervention for the FT and FL fleets in Alaska. The Alternate Compliance and Safety Agreement (ACSA) set standards for vessel stability, watertight integrity, hull condition, and other critical vessel components. To determine if ACSA has been an effective primary prevention intervention for improving safety in the fishing industry, a longitudinal study was conducted using retrospective data on vessel casualties during 2003-2012. On both types of vessels, reported rates of serious vessel casualties decreased after the vessels reached compliance with ACSA requirements, suggesting that ACSA has had a positive effect on vessel safety in the FT and FL fleets. These results support the premise that primary prevention strategies can contribute to worker safety by reducing the occurrence of vessel disasters. Future safety programs should be patterned after ACSA and further improved by following the recommendations outlined in this study. In the long-term, this research project will help prevent fatal and non-fatal injuries to workers in the fishing industry.
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