Repetitive Trauma and Negligent Workplace Practices in the Commercial Fishing Industry

June 4, 2020

We are excited to announce that starting today, and going forward across all our social media platforms, we will be bringing to the attention of our community, issues pertaining to occupational injuries in the commercial fishing industries.

Literally for decades almost every industry in this country has either voluntarily, or been forced by regulation or litigation, to dramatically improve the every day working conditions in their workplace environments. Yet standing alone in the abyss is the commercial fishing industry.   Although the fishing industry remains one of the most, if not the most, dangerous job in the country, fishing vessel owners have utterly ignored making the basic safety improvements in their workplaces that other industries have done. Nowhere is this more evident in the repetitive activities that fishermen are required to perform, including lifting awkward and extremely heavy devices, equipment and product while working long hours and contorting their bodies in awkward postures, doing these activities over and over again, on vessels which are oftentimes unsafe, and defective for other reasons, while attempting to maintain their balance as the vessel rocks and rolls over wavy seas through all types of inclement weather.

Over time the cumulative trauma that fishermen suffer causes injuries to joints including shoulders, elbows, wrists, neck, back, knees, ankles and hips, nerve damage in all of these areas of the body, which manifests itself in carpal tunnel syndrome and other nerve disorders, and also the exacerbation and aggravation of naturally occurring degenerative conditions such as osteoarthritis. Measures have been taken, beginning several decades ago in other industries, to design and implement more ergonomic practices in workplaces and also to train employees on and enforce safe lifting techniques and practices. Yet the fishing industry has utterly refused and/or ignored its duty to do so.

We at Flynn|Wirkus|Young have begun to pursue lawsuits on behalf of injured fishermen who have suffered the effects of various debilitating conditions and injuries as a result of being forced to work over the years in such grueling and dangerous conditions, exposed thereto by the utter carelessness, negligence and reckless disregard of vessel owners.

In this space over the coming Thursdays we will be providing more specific detail on what can be called cumulative trauma, repetitive stress injuries and/or occupationally induced musculoskeletal disorders. Some of our content here will be case related as the cases that we are filing proceed through the courts. We also will be announcing various public service events that we will be sponsoring and/or holding, including webinars and presentations, the purpose of which will be to educate commercial fishermen about their rights under the Jones Act and maritime common law principles to pursue claims for injuries suffered as a result of negligently induced cumulative trauma to which they’ve been exposed in their workplaces.

We are excited about our endeavors in this effort and look forward in the coming weeks and months to educating all of you out there and the community we serve through our efforts here in this space and otherwise.

Thanks for taking a peek at what we have to offer. If you feel that you have been injured as a result of being exposed to repetitive trauma and/or negligent work practice as a commercial fishermen please do not hesitate to contact Mike Flynn directly, or Client Services Coordinator Jim Comfort, at (617)773-5500.  Come visit us in our New Bedford once we have reopened after the COVID19 pandemic. You can also find information about our maritime practice on our website here.