The most common gear on a seine boat is one of the most deadly – the rotating capstan winch used for winding ropes. Here’s a sampler:

“The deck winch is the most powerful thing on the boat. It’s the scariest piece of machinery that we work with.”

“The corner of my raincoat caught under the capstan and started wrapping around. It snapped my head back and broke my neck.”

“I was lifting the ring and I reached over with a pair of nylon gloves. For some reason, my arm went down and started going around again and again. Then it jammed me against the deck and started to pull my arm off. And this all happened in seconds”

“My feeling being caught in that was completely helpless. I realized there was nothing I could do.”

A simple E-Stop device has been available for over 10 years to prevent winch injuries.

It’s a button that can be put on the horn of a capstan winch on a seiner. When the button is hit, it triggers a solenoid valve that stops the flow of hydraulic fluid to the winch and locks the capstan in place to prevent further entanglements.  

Ted Teske is a Health Communications Specialist with the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health.

But seiners are not installing the E Stops – only 50 or so are being used in the Northwest and Alaska out of a fleet of about 1,500.

Teske and his team want feedback from fishermen to find out why.

 We are certainly in talking to any seiners who have either installed one and have experience using the E Stop or guys who have considered it abnd never installed one. Both perspectives are extremely valuable for us.  

Between 2000 and 2014 there were 16 fatalities from winch entanglements in the US.   

The E-Stop outreach is part of a new project to increase adoption of deck safety interventions in fisheries.

Major manufacturers are now providing E-Stops on new seine winches. Retrofits for older  boasts cost around $3,800.

Teske and his safety team hopes to hear from seiners next month at ComFish in Kodiak and other events.

Find contact links and videos  and reach Ted Teske at