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Hand Crush Injuries on Commercial Fishing Vessels and Factory Trawlers

The commercial fishing industry is widely recognized as one of the most dangerous professions in the world. Among the myriad of risks that fishermen face, hand crush injuries stand out as some of the most common and debilitating. Commercial fishing vessels and particularly factory trawlers, with their complex machinery and fast-paced environments, present unique challenges that can increase the risk of these injuries.

Causes and Common Scenarios
  1. Machinery and Equipment: Commercial fishing involves the use of heavy machinery such as winches, pulleys, conveyor belts, and hydraulic equipment. Fingers and hands can easily get caught, leading to severe crush injuries. Factory trawlers, with their on-board processing facilities, have additional machinery like conveyors and grinders which further increase the risks.
  2. Handling Catch: The rapid and repetitive action required when handling and processing fish, especially on factory trawlers, can result in hands being caught between heavy boxes or crushed by moving parts. Deckhands can also get injured while hauling in the net or working out on deck with heavy equipment.
  3. Slips and Falls: Wet and slippery decks are a common feature on fishing vessels. Falling against machinery or equipment can result in hands being trapped and crushed.
  4. Poor Training or Fatigue: A lack of training or excessive fatigue can lead to mistakes, slower reaction times, and misjudgments, all of which can contribute to hand crush injuries.
Consequences of Hand Crush Injuries
  1. Immediate Physical Harm: Crush injuries can lead to broken bones, torn ligaments, and nerve damage. In severe cases, amputation may be necessary.
  2. Long-term Disability: Even with treatment, some injuries may lead to permanent disability, affecting a fisherman's ability to work and significantly impacting their quality of life.
  3. Psychological Impact: The trauma of experiencing a severe injury and the subsequent challenges can result in mental health issues like depression, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
  4. Economic Ramifications: Time off work, medical expenses, and potential loss of livelihood can have significant economic repercussions for the injured individual and their families due to loss of earning capacity.
Prevention and Safety Measures

Oftentimes, these injuries can be prevented when an employer takes adequate safety precautions.

  1. Regular Training: Regular safety training and drills can help ensure that all crew members are aware of the risks and know how to operate machinery safely.
  2. Safety Equipment: Using gloves designed to provide protection against crush injuries, as well as other personal protective equipment (PPE), can reduce the severity of injuries.
  3. Maintenance: Regular maintenance and inspections of machinery can prevent malfunctions that could lead to accidents.
  4. Rest Periods: Ensuring that crew members are not overworked and have adequate rest can reduce the risk of mistakes caused by fatigue.
  5. Emergency Preparedness: Having a well-equipped first aid kit and trained medical personnel on board can ensure prompt treatment in the event of an injury.
  6. Job Safety Hazard Analysis: Performing job safety hazard analysis to analyze the type of work being performed and how best to prevent injuries to the hands.
Consult With an Experienced Maritime Injury Attorney Based in Seattle

Hand crush injuries on commercial fishing vessels and factory trawlers are a significant concern. While the nature of the work means there will always be risks, through rigorous safety protocols, regular training, and the use of appropriate equipment, these injuries can be minimized. It's essential for the industry to recognize the severity of these injuries and take proactive measures to protect its workers. If you or a loved one sustained a serious hand crush injury, hand laceration, hand or finger amputation, contact one of our experience maritime injury lawyers today for a free consultation on your legal options to seek recovery.