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Traumatic Injuries on Offshore Seafood Processors

Alaskan offshore seafood processors work in a very demanding environment and are at a high risk of injury. The work environment is wet, cold, and noisy, the shifts are long, and the tasks typically include prolonged standing, repetitive movements, heavy lifting.

The Journal of Safety Research recently published an article analyzing data on Alaskan offshore seafood processor injuries from 2010 to 2015. Over these five years, 304 non-fatal injuries were reported to the U.S. Coastguard. The article categorizes patterns of traumatic injury among offshore seafood processors by nature of the injury, body part, their causes, and where they occur. The purpose of the study is to inform future injury prevention strategies.

What Type of Injuries Most Frequently Occur on Seafood Processors?

Working on an offshore vessel carries the potential of suffering a wide range of injuries, including death from a vessel disaster or falls overboard. However, the vast majority of all injuries are non-fatal. The three most commonly occurring injuries on seafood processors from 2010 to 2015 were:

  1. Sprains, strains, and tears (25%);
  2. Contusions (16%); and
  3. Fractures (15%).

These injuries can be severe, resulting in lost wages, lowered quality of life, and disability.

What Body Parts are Most Frequently Injured on Seafood Processors?

The most frequently injured body parts on Alaskan seafood processors were:

  1. Upper extremities (40%) and
  2. Trunk (25%).
What are the Most Common Causes of Injuries on Seafood Processors?

The most common causes of injuries on Alaskan seafood processors include:

  1. Contact with objects and equipment (49%) and
  2. Overexertion and bodily reaction (25%).
Where Do Injuries on Seafood Processors Happen?

The work tasks most frequently associated with injuries on Alaskan seafood processors were:

  1. Processing seafood on the production line (the “slime line”) (22%);
  2. Stacking blocks and bags of frozen product (17%); and
  3. Repairing, maintaining, and cleaning factory equipment (9%).
How Can Injuries Be Prevented on Seafood Processors?

To provide the most effective protection, employers should target injury prevention to the work processes associated with the most frequently occurring and severe injuries. According to the study, preventing musculoskeletal injuries (strains and tears), especially to workers’ upper extremities, is the most important. Employers should focus injury prevention on the following four areas:

  1. Overexertion from lifting and lowering objects and equipment;
  2. Equipment boxes falling and striking workers;
  3. Workers being caught in machinery during regular operations; and
  4. Slip and falls.

Possible solutions to avoid overexertion and musculoskeletal injuries include:

  • Adjusting workstations to fit the worker height and the task being performed;
  • Arranging the workstations so that heavy lifting can be done without twisting;
  • Using equipment that tilts or inverts containers to reduce manual removal of products;
  • Performing routine maintenance on equipment;
  • Increased breaks in warm areas to rest muscles; and
  • Job rotation that allows rests for specific body parts.

Kraft Davies, PLLC is a nationally recognized leader in maritime personal injury law. Kraft Davies has significant experience representing injured seamen. We understand the fishing industry and know how to get you the compensation that you deserve. If you or a loved one were injured in a commercial fishing or shipping accident, contact the attorneys at Kraft Davies today at 206-624-8844 or through this website.