LONDON (June 10th, 2008) Forget cleaning windows on skyscrapers or fearlessly entering burning buildings – it’s fishermen who carry out Britain’s deadliest job.

In a significant report into workplace fatalities, commissioned to illustrate the treacherous conditions on British seas by Discovery Channel’s Emmy award nominated series Deadliest Catch, Dr Stephen Roberts Professor of Epidemiology (health and illness of populations) from Swansea University, has highlighted that deaths from commercial fishing are 115 times higher than those in the general British workforce, 24 times higher than the construction sector and 89 times higher than the manufacturing industry.

On closer analysis commercial deep sea fishing crews suffer 102 deaths per 100,000 workers, the next most dangerous job in the UK is refuse and salvage workers at 24 deaths per 100,000.

Deaths per 100,000 workers:

  • Deep sea fishing – 115
  • Refuse and salvage workers – 24
  • Road workers – 14
  • Scaffolders – 11
  • Metal production workers – 10
  • Line repairers and cable jointers – 10
  • Dockers and stevedores – 9
  • Roofers – 8
  • Farm workers – 7

While the waters may be different, the conditions British seamen endure are mirrored in the new series of Deadliest Catch, which is currently showing on the Discovery Channel. The programme swaps British waters for the Bering Sea, off the coast of Alaska.

Cause of death
The most common causes of death on commercial fishing vessels are boats capsizing (59 deaths), falling overboard (32), vessels running aground (14), fishermen being struck by ‘gear’ (11). Fishermen who work on potting vessels, as the fishermen in Deadliest Catch do, account for a quarter of all fishing deaths.
Dr Roberts, comments: “There has been little improvement in fatality numbers on the sea for 100 years, despite improvements thanks to health and safety in all other industries – seafaring continues to be Britain’s deadliest job.”

Deadliest Catch follows a fleet of fishing vessels as they brave subzero arctic weather, 60-mph winds and turbulent seas with waves the size of four-story buildings. They do all this on four hours of sleep each night – if they’re lucky – making hazardous situations even more demanding. There is a 100% injury rate on each voyage but the crews are rewarded with sizeable salaries for their death defying occupations.
Watch the drama on the waves in the new series of Deadliest Catch, exclusive to Discovery Channel at 9pm every Tuesday.