Depending on your location and fishery, a commercial fisherman in the US may be as likely to die from falling overboard as from a vessel disaster. In the towboat industry, more than 50% of fatalities result from man overboard incidents.
With that in mind, commercial fishermen will do well to take a look at how at how Marathon Petroleum has taken on the problem. A recent article in the online edition of WorkBoat magazine highlights their success success in preventing man overboard incidents through frequent training.
Following four man overboard incidents, including one fatality in 2010. Marathon worked with a third-party consultant to develop a safety program that emphasizes training of new deckhands and continuing training for all crews. Except for a single incident in 2012, Marathon has not had a man overboard incident since.
Marathon Petroleum's success speaks for itself and illustrates why the vessel orientation and emergency drills requirements were written into the fishing vessel safety regulations. Orientation of new crew to the vessel and its safety equipment, along with regular practice of your boat's emergency procedures help to ensure that everyone is prepared to respond to a man overboard or other emergency.
Has it been awhile since you attended a Fishing Vessel Drill Conductor class or conducted a man overboard drill? You may want to take a few minutes and watch our online video, Man Overboard Prevention and Recovery. You'll get a refresher on how you and your crew should respond if someone falls overboard. If you need a refresher on how to conduct onboard drills, take some time to watch Beating the Odds: Onboard Emergency Drills.
Do you need a Fishing Vessel Drill Conductor class in your area? Sign up on our Class Waiting List. That lets us know that you are looking for a class and we will send you an email message when we have scheduled a class in your area.