Vol 70, No 1 (2019)
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Published online: 2019-03-28

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Dungeness crab fishermen perceptions of injury causation and factors in staying safe

Sabrina Pillai1, Viktor E. Bovbjerg1, Amelia Vaughan1, Kaety R. Jacobson2, Laura N. Syron1, Laurel D. Kincl1
Pubmed: 30931518
IMH 2019;70(1):55-60.


Background: Commercial fishing is a hazardous occupation in the United States (US). Injury surveillance data relies heavily on US Coast Guard reports, which capture injuries severe enough to require reporting. The reports do not incorporate the fishermen’s perspective on contributing factors to injuries and staying safe while fishing. 

Materials and methods: We conducted a pre-season survey of Dungeness crab fishermen during 2015 to 2016. Community researchers administered surveys to fishermen. Respondents reported their opinions about factors contributing to injuries and staying safe, which were grouped into similar themes by consen- sus. Descriptive statistics were calculated to explore the number of injuries, crew position, age, and years of experience. Chi-square tests compared perceptions of injury causation, staying safe, and other factors. 

Results: Four hundred twenty-six surveys were completed. Injury causation perceptions were sorted into 17 categories, and staying safe perceptions were sorted into 13 categories. The most frequently cited causes of injury were heavy workload (86, 21.9%), poor mental focus (78, 19.9%), and inexperience (56, 14.3%). The most frequently cited factors in staying safe while fishing were awareness (142, 36.1%), good and well-maintained fishing gear/vessel (41, 10.4%), and best marine practices (39, 9.9%). Opinions were not significantly associated with experiencing an injury in the past while fishing, but some opinions were significantly associated with crew position, age, and years of experience. 

Conclusions: The perceptions of fishermen can be evaluated further and incorporated into training or intervention development. The fishermen-led approach of this project lends itself to developing injury pre- vention strategies that are effective, realistic and suitable. The resources available at FLIPPresources.org, such as informational sheets for new fishermen, sample crew agreements, and first aid kit resources, supply workers in this fishery with real solutions for issues they identified through their survey responses. 

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