Unsafe Lifting Injuries on Commercial Fishing Factory Trawlers
Commercial fishing is one of the most dangerous occupations globally, with a fatality rate significantly higher than many other industries. Among the myriad risks faced by fishermen, unsafe lifting injuries on commercial fishing factory trawlers pose a substantial concern.The Prevalence of Unsafe Lifting Injuries
Factory trawlers are large commercial fishing vessels where the catch is processed and frozen onboard. This process requires significant manual labor, often involving the lifting and moving of heavy objects. According to recent data, unsafe lifting practices have resulted in a high number of musculoskeletal injuries among workers in this sector. These injuries often include sprains, strains, back injuries, and hernias, which can lead to long-term health problems and financial instability for the injured workers.Causes of Unsafe Lifting Injuries
Several factors contribute to the high rate of lifting-related injuries on factory trawlers:
- Improper Training: Many workers lack appropriate training in safe lifting techniques, leading to a higher risk of injury. This lack of training is often due to time and resource constraints and the high turnover rate in this industry.
- Long Working Hours: Commercial fishing often involves long hours of continuous work, which can lead to fatigue and decreased alertness, increasing the risk of accidents and injuries.
- Harsh Working Conditions: The conditions on a trawler can be extremely challenging, with rolling seas, slippery surfaces, and extreme weather conditions often leading to unsafe lifting practices.
- Lack of Safety Equipment: The use of proper lifting equipment could significantly reduce the risk of injuries, but such equipment is often lacking onboard factory trawlers.
- Lifting Heavy Objects: Sometimes employers require the crew to lift objects on a repetitive basis that are unreasonably heavy. For example, fish meal bags can often weigh more than 70-pounds and lifting them on a repetitive basis is a known cause of injury.
Preventing these injuries requires a multifaceted approach that includes the following measures:
- Proper Training: All crew members should receive training on safe lifting techniques and ergonomics. This training should be mandatory and repeated at regular intervals to ensure that all workers are up-to-date on the best practices.
- Rest Periods: Implementing mandatory rest periods can help reduce fatigue-related injuries. It is important to balance productivity with the well-being and safety of the crew.
- Safety Equipment: Providing and maintaining suitable lifting equipment can significantly decrease the risk of injuries. This could include lifting aids, safety harnesses, and other relevant gear.
- Enforcement of Safety Regulations and Safety Management Systems: Strict enforcement of safety regulations by relevant authorities and the company is crucial. Routine inspections and penalties for non-compliance can go a long way in promoting safe lifting practices onboard trawlers.
- Workplace Design: Where possible, redesigning work processes to minimize the need for manual lifting can be highly effective in preventing injuries. Moreover, employees should not be required to lift objects on a repetitive basis that are unreasonably heavy.
By implementing comprehensive safety measures, providing adequate training, and enforcing strict regulations, we can significantly reduce the incidence of these injuries, improving the health and safety of those who work in this dangerous but vital industry. It is the responsibility of employers, safety authorities, and the workers themselves to ensure that these measures are implemented and adhered to. If you or loved one sustained a lifting injury on a commercial fishing vessel, contact our firm for a free consultation with an experienced maritime injury lawyer.