Statistically speaking, commercial fishing is the most dangerous occupation in America. The fatality rate for those working in the commercial fishing industry is 35 times higher than the average profession here in the U.S.
Data highlighting the dangers that winches pose isn’t abundant — the most recent data was published in 2013 by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) using compiled data from 2000-2009. Those statistics showed that at least 10% of deaths involving fishermen during that time were attributable to entanglement. It’s likely that many of these incidents involved winches.
What makes working with winches so dangerous?
One of the leading reasons why fishermen become entangled in their winches is because they fail to take the proper safety precautions. This may occur because they don’t receive proper training from their employer or have access to the proper equipment to remain safe.
Hydraulic devices are the recommended type of winch that fishermen should use. They should come equipped with strong passive guards that attach to the main drum. Winches like these can minimize the risk of entanglement. Vessel owners should weld extensions onto the cable guides to minimize a worker’s risk of entanglement.
CDC statistics show that deck winch injuries don’t discriminate based on age. They have historically affected workers as young as in their 20s up to their 70s, with the average being around 50 years of age.
What’s the prognosis for fishermen with winch injuries?
Nearly 25% of those who suffer winch injuries die from their accidents. Those fishermen who do survive such an incident may need to have their lower or upper limbs amputated to save their life — and their long-term care costs can be tremendous.
There are many different laws unique to the maritime industry that protect the rights of fishermen and other individuals who work in this industry. If you or your loved one suffered a maritime injury, find out more about your legal options for compensation.