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NIOSH Tests Deck Winch Modifications to Prevent Injuries on Shrimp Trawlers

The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) has partnered with shrimp fishermen in the Gulf of Mexico to test stationary guards to prevent winch entanglements on shrimp trawlers. The U.S. Coast Guard approached NIOSH after noticing an increase in the incidence of deckhands becoming entangled in deck winches.

Between 2000 and 2011 there were 35 severe work-related injuries reported, including eight fatal injuries. In 2012, a 15 year-old boy, fishing on a shrimp boat, died when his clothing became caught in an operating deck winch. Recognizing the need for action to reduce the number of injuries, NIOSH partnered with three fishing vessels to test static guards on deck winches.

NIOSH has released a fact sheet on this study that includes a description of the modifications, before and after photos of the installations, and a list of boats currently operating with stationary guards installed. You can view and download the fact sheet at the link below.

Reducing Winch Entanglements with Stationary Guarding:

In addition to their work on stationary guards, NIOSH has developed a prototype auxiliary-stop device that can be actuated by a winch operator if they become entangled. While not a full emergency stop device that will immediately stop the momentum of the winch drum, NIOSH sees this as an interim measure that can help reduce injuries until a more effective retrofit can be designed. You can get more information on the auxiliary stop-device at the following link.

Reducing Winch Entanglements With Auxiliary-Stop Device:


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