Updated: May 13
Once the fishing season ends, many commercial fishermen turn to the endless list of maintenance tasks that comes with owning or working on a commercial fishing boat. Boat work may be done at the dock or in a boatyard. Either way, boat work exposes workers to a wide range of physical, chemical, and electrical hazards. According to the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), the injury and illness incidence rate on ships and in boatyards is more than double the rates of construction and general industry.
To help commercial fishermen and other boatyard workers understand the risks, and adopt measures that can help prevent injury and illness, Alaska Sea Grant has recently published, Boatyard Hazards: Tips for Protecting Worker Safety and Health. The 20-page booklet introduces vessel owners and crews to the regulatory requirements for protecting worker safety and health, the hazards associated with different maintenance materials and processes, and hazard management processes that help prevent injury or illness associated with boatyard work. From the introduction:
“Purposes of this manual are to:
outline the regulatory authorities who oversee boatyard safety and health
summarize how to do a hazard analysis and draft a set of best practices
identify types of injury and health risks associated with boatyard work
describe preventive measures for a range of risks
explain selection and use of personal protective equipment (PPE)
clarify how to read and interpret a material safety data sheet (MSDS)
recommend steps you can take to ensure your own health and safety."
The management of work related hazards benefits both vessel owners and crews. For the owner, hazard management reduces the risk of losing experienced crew to injuries and reduces exposure to the substantial financial liabilities imposed by the Jones Act for injuries to employees, contract workers, and crew. For the crew, reduced exposure to boatyard hazards helps ensure a long and healthy career, and helps prevent lost fishing time and earnings due to injury or illness.
Boatyard Hazards: Tips for Protecting Worker Safety and Health is free to download online at the Alaska Sea Grant Bookstore.