No safety net in the dangerous commercial fishing industry: part one

Commercial fishing is one of the deadliest industries in the United States, ranked as the most dangerous occupation by the Bureau of Labor Statistics from 2007 to 2010. From 2000 to 2010 the industry’s fatality rate was 31 times higher than the national workplace average, with 116 work-related deaths in the Gulf of Mexico alone.

Fishing crews are left to fend for themselves at sea and that tradition of independence has carried into their operations and safety protocol. The commercial fishing industry has long resisted government regulations in an effort to remain autonomous.

But with death tolls rising, more and more industry players agree that the federal safety net as it exists is insufficient. Many are pushing for congressional regulations to improve the safety of fishing vessels and give federal agencies more authority to inspect boats.

Until that much-needed reform comes from Congress, many seaside communities are trying to create their own culture of safety from the inside out. Frequent safety drills and stricter vessel standards are one way that fishing companies and their crews can curb death tolls at sea.

In response to this deadly trend, fishermen and those concerned with their safety have lobbied for years to improve the dangerous state of their occupation. Next week we’ll discuss some of the difficulties safety advocates have faced trying to pass reforms that could protect fishermen’s safety.

If you have been injured in a work-related accident at sea, it may be wise to speak with a personal injury attorney experienced in work-related accident cases and Jones Act claims. They can help you navigate complex state and federal laws that govern such cases and pursue appropriate compensation for your injuries.

Source: The Center for Public Integrity, “Fishing deaths mount, but government slow to cast safety net for deadliest industry,” Ronnie Greene, Aug. 22, 2012

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