NIOSH Advises Fishermen on How to ‘Live to be Salty’

Falling overboard is the second leading cause of death among commercial fishermen nationwide, and the reason for that, says NIOSH, is not wearing a personal flotation device.
That’s why representatives of the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health were back at Comfish 2015 in Kodiak this past week to show off and promote the use of personal flotation devices designed for use in specific fisheries.
NIOSH’s Ted Teske also introduced the agency’s array of posters promoting use of PFDs, every time fishermen get on deck, with catchy comments like “sure PFDs get in the way, in the way of your drowning.” More on that is online at
Researchers from the NIOSH Alaska Pacific Office conducted an evaluation with commercial fishermen from four gear groups, crabbers, trawlers, longliners and gillnetters, to rate the comfort and acceptability of six modern PFDs. About 200 fishermen were asked to evaluate a PFD for one month while working on deck so that wearable PFDs could be identified.
After 30 days on deck, the crabbers preferred Mustang and Stearns Inflatable Suspenders. Those aboard trawlers preferred Mustang and Stearns Inflatable Suspenders, the Stearns Foam Work Vest and Regatta Raingear with foam in the bibs. Longliners found the Mustang Inflatable Suspenders to be the only acceptable PFD in the study, and gillnetters liked the Regatta raingear with built-in foam flotation. Their main concern, said fishermen participating in the evaluations, was that PFDs could be an entanglement hazard.
NIOSH recommends that all vessel operators have a PFD policy for their crew, for example that PFDs must be worn 100 percent of the time on deck and/or when the weather turns bad.

More information on NIOSH is online at