Background: Fishing industry workers are exposed to hazardous working conditions, engage in strenuous labor, and work long hours in variable weather conditions. Despite these known employment challenges, little is known of their perceived occupational health and safety concerns. In this pilot study, we: (1) describe fishermen's perceptions on worker- and organizational-level characteristics that impact occupational health and safety; and (2) estimate environmental exposure to polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) encountered during fishing activities. Methods: We collected both qualitative and quantitative data from Mississippi and Florida fishermen. Using an ethnographic approach, the study team conducted 1-h key informant interviews, administered a one-page demographic survey, and collected objective measurements to PAHs using silicone-based passive sampling wristbands. Results: Study participants (n = 17) had a mean age of 50.9 years (SD = 11.7), 88.2% were male, 94.1% white, 100.0% non-Hispanic/Latino, and 52.9% were married. Approximately, 87.5% reported fishing as their primary job, with a mean of 26.4 years in the industry (SD = 15.3). Four broad themes describing the culture of the fishing industry, common workplace exposures that impact fishermen's safety and health, and facilitators and barriers to safety while working in the fishing industry were documented. Deckhands had the lowest mean exposure to PAHs (8.3 ppb), followed by crew members (11.0 ppb), captains (82.64 ppb), and net makers (208.1 ppb). Conclusions: Gulf coast fishermen expressed specific occupational health and safety concerns and were exposed to carcinogenic PAHs during regular work. Opportunities exist and strategies are needed for health protection and health promotion interventions among Gulf fishermen.
- chemical exposures
- fishing industry
- injury prevention
- occupational health and safety
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health