Frozen Fish on a Fishing Vessel

Fishermen face a wide range of hazards at sea, including the machinery used to haul and store the day’s catch. In fact, equipment accidents are a common cause of injuries to commercial fishermen, particularly the large industrial freezers found on trawlers and factory ships.

The Dangers of Working Around Plate Freezers

Like most maritime machinery accidents, an employer’s negligence is often to blame when a worker suffers an injury. Employees who were not properly trained to use plate freezers safely or who were forced to work with broken or outdated freezers could have an unseaworthiness claim against the shipowner.

There are many risks associated with the use of plate freezers, including:

  • Finger and hand injuries. In order to keep harvested seafood fresh, it is frozen at extremely low temperatures (up to 40 degrees below zero). If workers are not issued adequate gloves or protective gear, they can suffer freezer burn or frostbite that causes the loss of a digit.
  • Back injuries. The daily loading and unloading of blocks of frozen fish can take a toll on workers’ backs. Years of lifting, turning, or twisting movements can cause irreparable damage to the bones and tissues in the spine, leading to early retirement or potential long-term disability.
  • Struck-by accidents. If the vessel is caught in a storm, a metallic pan full of frozen fish may be flung from the freezer unit without warning. As these pans can weigh over 25 pounds, the damage it causes when it hits a crew member can be deadly.
  • Suffocation. Plate freezers require a great deal of refrigerants to keep products cool, which can be deadly if released into an enclosed space. Poor maintenance of refrigeration units can case hazardous chemicals to leak into work areas, resulting in throat and lung injuries or deaths by suffocation.

Contact Top NYC Maritime Injury Attorneys Today

If you or someone you love has been hurt at sea, the maritime injury attorneys at Hofmann & Schweitzer can determine who may be liable for the accident and what you are owed under the law. Call 1-800-3-MAY-DAY today or fill out our online contact form. You can also download a complimentary copy of Are You a Seaman Injured in a Maritime Accident? Know Your Rights.


Paul T. Hofmann
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Focused on personal injury, with an emphasis on maritime, railroad and construction worker tort claims.