FAIRBANKS — Commercial fishermen experience the highest rate of occupational fatalities and second highest rate of non-fatal occupational injuries of any job in the state of Alaska, according to a bulletin released Thursday by the state Department of Epidemiology.
While attempts have been made to reduce injuries, both fatal and non-fatal, in the Alaskan fishing industry, Epidemiology states that relatively little is known about the patterns that cause the incidents.
To delve into the subject, the department examined injuries in Dutch Harbor, through the patients treated at Iliuliuk Family Health Center, the primary care center in the Dutch Harbor area.
Between 2007 and 2008, 366 fishermen were reportedly seen at the health center for treatment of traumatic injuries, according to a review conducted by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health. More than two-thirds of the fishermen were injured while at sea.
The majority of the injuries came in the form of sprains, strains, contusions or upper body fractures.
Epidemiology’s bulletin states that a multi-year study examining both risk factors and incident rates would be beneficial to lowering injury rates in the commercial fishing industry.