Study: Commercial fishermen evaluate flotation devices for proper fit, function
Researchers have initiated a study to identify the most comfortable, acceptable flotation devices among the workers.
Researchers from the Alaska Pacific Office of the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health asked 200 fishermen to evaluate one of six personal flotation devices for one month each while working on deck. The workers were from four gear groups -- crabbers, trawlers, longliners, and gillnetters.
Both inflatable and foam devices were included. They were either integrated into the worker's rain gear or worn in addition to rain gear. The flotation devices are now for sale based on the evaluations.
"The key to finding the proper PFD is to try on many to make sure they will work for the specific activities related to your type of fishing," the study says. "Working on crowded decks and in close proximity to gear make it vitally important that a PFD not become a snagging hazard. Fishermen who work in colder weather may prefer a PFD with more foam padding for insulation against the weather."
The researchers identified the following considerations for choosing a personal flotation device:
- Amount of care and maintenance required. Inflatable vests musts be checked annually to make sure the inflation mechanism is armed -- no leaking carbon dioxide bottle, no degraded dissolvable tablet. Also, they must be checked to ensure there are no holes in the air bladder, which is checked by manually inflating the vest and refolding it. Foam vests, on the other hand, require only an inspection of zippers, straps, and buckles "but will still float you if there are small punctures to the foam."
- Availability of re-arming kits. Some remote locations may not have the specific kit required for a particular personal flotation device. The researchers suggest buying an extra vest before heading out for the season.
"Check out the gear specific evaluations on the NIOSH website, visit your local marine safety trainer to see what varieties they have, ask around the dock to see what others are using," NIOSH said. "Fishery supply shops carry a variety of models and can order ones they may not have in stock."
Read more at the WorkersComp Forum homepage.
March 25, 2013
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