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Crewmember injuries on factory trawlers: a Q & A

The money can be good, but working on a factory trawler in remote locations comes with many risks of injury.

Of course a lot depends on how well-run the ship you are on is. But it's also true that some roles aboard trawlers are at higher risk of injuries than others.

Which workers in the trawl fleet suffer the most injuries?

The National Institute for Occupational Safe and Health (NIOSH) has studied these questions. According to NIOSH, workers who process fish suffer injuries much more frequently than crewmembers working as deckhands.

In percentage terms, 75 percent of the injuries aboard trawlers are to fish processors. A much smaller percentage of the injuries, 17 percent, are to deckhands.

In other words, fish processors are injured more than four times as often as deckhands in the trawl fleet.

What types of injuries are the most frequent aboard factory trawlers?

Contusions, fractures and tears from handling frozen fish are the most frequent types of injuries. But lacerations, skin punctures and even amputations are also common.

In its research, NIOSH has developed a chart showing the most common injuries to particular areas of the body. For the torso, for example, nearly half of the injuries are sprains, strains and tears.

What about the risk of death?

Often working in remote waters, factory trawler workers certainly face the risk not only of injury, but of death. This isn't only due to the fact that the floating factory might sink. It's because on-board medical care is often quite limited and medevac assistance from the Coast Guard may not be accessible.


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