There are many hazardous jobs in the world, but many people do not think of fisherman as people that would literally risk their life whilst conducting their job.
This is not for people who like to go down to the river on a Sunday afternoon for a spot of fishing! In fact, commercial fishermen have a dangerous job because they have the role of hauling the millions of tons of fish and other seafood that ends up in our supermarkets and then on our dinner plates. Their job is endless, ruthless and at the mercy of the weather and tides.
The fishing industry is not for the weak at heart. Fishermen have to go out into the ocean to source the fish usually spending long periods of time out at sea, this can be very dangerous. Each year, thousands of workers are at the mercy of the ocean and the weather. This is the main reason employment surveys across the globe often rank commercial fishing amongst the most dangerous careers surveyed.
According to a human resources company, nearly 95 percent of America’s salmon supply comes from Alaska. Therefore fishing accounts for close to half of the Alaskan state's private sector employment.
The temperament of the sea largely depends on the weather. When fishermen have to haul up nets which weigh hundreds of pounds this can be very hard work. When it is raining, hailing or snowing, fishermen can be thrown overboard and when you get a rogue wave it can be even more dangerous. It is also very cold in these waters so fishermen must not go out at sea when sick with lung conditions or flu, because it can lead to pneumonia.
The human resources statistics show that 128 out of every 100,000 Alaskan fishermen died in their job in 2007 alone. This is twenty six times the national average.
Did you know that fishing deaths also account for a third of all occupational fatalities in Alaska each year? All of this information shows just how dangerous fishing can be when in this kind of environment.
Within Alaskan fishing, the worst of the unsafe jobs is crab fishing. It is thought that crab fishing can become a Russian roulette game with the sea because fishermen have to reach deep into the sea to pull out crabs from rocks with their hands. Sometimes, they even need to get into the sea. This hugely increases the risk of death or injury.
So before you rush out to become a fisherman consider some of the risks that may face you out at sea.
Tobi Baker, the author of this article is an experienced human resources expert with over a decade’s experience providing health and safety audits and support to small and large businesses around the world. Most recently working for a large group of health and safety consultants that specialise in providing support to high risk industries.