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Commercial fisherman injuries and how to survive a MOB incident

On Behalf of | Nov 30, 2021 | Maritime Law |

Commercial fishing is a hazardous occupation. There are countless ways to become injured both in port and on the water.

A fisherman faces on-deck slip-and-fall injuries as well as the possibility of a man overboard (MOB). Incident. What kind of activities require fall protection, and how does a fisherman survive a MOB event?

A little background

According to information from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on-deck injuries represent the highest number of non-fatal injuries among commercial fishermen in the U.S. Slips, trips and falls happen due to wet, slick, pitching decks and the placement of cables and high-tension lines. Although on-deck injuries resulting in death take the top spot, falls overboard represent the second leading cause of death among fishermen.

On-deck fall protection

Both the U.S. Coast Guard and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) have established safety regulations for the fishing industry. OSHA points out common work practices that require fall protection, such as welding on the outside of a vessel’s hull, painting outside the rails or working on masts or gantries. OSHA requires fall protection for anyone working five feet above a solid surface or any distance above water.

Surviving a man overboard  (MOB) event

The CDC emphasizes the importance of a fisherman wearing a personal flotation device (PFD). The PFD will allow the MOB victim more time for a rescue to occur. To initiate a rescue, those on deck should signal the captain, crew or nearby vessels of the MOB event; maintain visual contact and throw out rings or marker lights to mark the location.


Owners and operators of commercial fishing boats owe a duty of care to their workers and may be liable for a fisherman’s injuries. Compensation might include coverage for medical expenses, lost wages, emotional distress and more.