Commercial Fishing Occupational Safety and Health in the Gulf and Agricultural Occupational Safety and Health in Graduate Medical Education
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Background–The commercial fishing work sector continues to experience one of the highest occupational fatality rates in the U.S. There are regional differences in distribution of these events relative to fishery type, geography, and other variables such as cultural factors. Methods–Over the last decade, the Southwest Center for Agricultural Health, Injury Prevention, and Education has been exploring these factors and developing interventions through engagement of a vulnerable population of commercial fishermen in the Gulf of Mexico and forming strategic partnerships with numerous stakeholders, most notably the U.S. Coast Guard. This has involved a variety of quantitative/qualitative methods including focus groups, surveys, a community trial with quasi-experimental pretest/posttest intervention design, and development of a social media campaign to enhance adoption of personal flotation devices (PFDs). Results–Shrimp is a major fishery in the Gulf and earlier studies showed more than 80% of these fishermen are Asian, mostly Vietnamese. Culture plays a significant role in attitudes/beliefs among Vietnamese shrimp fishermen of the Gulf, and may influence behaviors that are risk factors for fatal and non-fatal injuries. In particular, commercial fishing industry leaders are able to influence behaviors and practices among fishermen. Over the last decade, safety tip cards, interactive CD instructional tools for vessel sound signaling and Mayday calls, and signage for a variety of safety concerns have been developed and disseminated. Statistically significant changes in attitudes/beliefs have been noted. Presently, identifying and assessing barriers to use of lifesaving PFDs (including heat stress), preferences of commercial fishermen for various PFD designs, and development of a social media campaign to promote use on deck are underway. Conclusions–Culturally appropriate training and awareness measures combined with recognizing normative influences can favorably alter attitudes, beliefs, and behavioral intent related to workplace safety in this population. Relevance to Public Health—Environmental health science represents one of the five core disciplines or competencies in public health and includes occupational health. This doctoral dissertation focusing on the commercial fishing work subsector addresses all three areas of essential services in public health, namely, assessment, policy development, and assurance. It has also formed an integral part of workforce development in the occupational medicine arena.
occupational safety and health
graduate medical education
Gulf of Mexico
workplace safety behaviors
Levin, Jeffrey Lynn (2018). Commercial Fishing Occupational Safety and Health in the Gulf and Agricultural Occupational Safety and Health in Graduate Medical Education. Doctoral dissertation, Texas A & M University. Available electronically from