Commercial fishing operations, especially on offshore vessels, are among the most dangerous employment opportunities. The good pay workers often command is compensation for the elevated risk of a workplace fatality or a disabling injury.
Especially when people fish professionally out on the open ocean, many things can go wrong and lead to debilitating injury or death. Some of the hazards associated with offshore professional fishing include the risk of being swept overboard during inclement weather or drowning if a vessel capsizes.
However, there are numerous other risks that can injure fishermen on the job. The nets used for open ocean fishing are a known hazard on the decks of commercial fishing vessels.
Nets can drag people overboard
A lot of things happen at once on a fishing vessel. Workers have to constantly remain aware of their position in the ocean, oncoming waves and the actions of their co-workers. When there are nets on the deck, the possibility of a mistake that leads to injury drastically increases.
It only takes one improperly placed step for an individual to get their feet tangled in fishing nets and run the risk of getting dragged overboard. Especially in situations where someone does not have a flotation device on or where their co-workers do not witness them go overboard, someone tangled in fishing nets could drown or suffer severe traumatic injuries from the fall.
Even if coworkers help someone out of the water, being underwater for an extended amount of time could potentially lead to permanent brain damage caused by oxygen deprivation.
Workers’ compensation doesn’t protect offshore fisherman
While you may work in a very high-risk profession and expect appropriate protection, those who work in offshore industries typically do not have the benefit of workers’ compensation insurance. Instead, their only way of recovering medical costs and lost wages after an injury on the job would be to file a lawsuit under the Jones Act.
When illegal activity, lax safety standards or employer negligence directly contributes to an offshore employee’s injury, they can potentially file a lawsuit against the company that employs them seeking appropriate damages. Identifying major risk factors for your industry could help you avoid a maritime workplace injury or start building the grounds for a maritime work injury claim.