Some kinds of accidents are completely preventable. If vessel owners, supervisors and maritime workers follow safety protocols, wear appropriate safety gear and respond to the unexpected in the ways that they have been trained to, tragedies can be averted. However, other accidents are only somewhat preventable. When it comes to navigating bad weather on a commercial fishing vessel, there is only so much that maritime workers can do to avoid the worst.
There are various trainings, safety protocols and preventative measures that can be taken to mitigate a risk of accidents during poor weather conditions on commercial fishing vessels, just as there are on recreational fishing vessels. These precautionary measures should be taken seriously, as failure to do so can lead to a far higher risk of injury and death.
In the case of freak lightening, there is little that can prevent related injury if the lightning occurs seemingly out of nowhere and strikes without warning. However, taking weather reports seriously and responding to weather-related warnings urgently can help to prevent injury. The only truly safe place one can be during a lightening storm is in a well-constructed stationary building. However, taking shelter in the safest area of a commercial fishing vessel will give workers the best possible shot at avoiding lightening-related injury and death.
More Americans die from lightening-related injuries while fishing than during any other recreational activity. Maritime workers also too often suffer relatively preventable lightening-related injury and death. It is time that this trend shifted in favor of safety through prevention and risk mitigation.
Source: NOAA, “NOAA study finds fishing tops U.S. lightning death activities,” June 24, 2013
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