September 2, 2014



This is Fish Radio. I’m Stephanie Mangini.  A button that could prevent fatal injuries on deck, I’ll tell you more after this –

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Yet another Fisherman’s limb was nearly ripped off by one of the deadliest pieces of equipment on deck.  Last week in Kodiak a man’s leg was severely damaged and his foot was crushed when it was sucked up into the winch.       


“It will not stop. The guys call it the most powerful thing on the boat.”


Ted Teske is a Health Communications Specialist with the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health. NIOSH research shows that a high number of traumatic fishing injuries come from getting entangled in the winch, especially on seine vessels.


“Because if that thing gets a hold of you  when you’re pursing a line or moving a line or doing anything, it won’t let go and it will end up tearing your arm off or breaking your neck or something of that nature. “


If a fisherman gets pulled into the winch, he gets pulled away from the controls to stop it, which are   mounted on the back of the wheelhouse. Unless someone is there to stop the winch right way, it will spin several times before stopping.  Teske helped develop a simple device called an E-Stop, or emergency stop that stops the capstan winch from spinning. 


“So we developed a button that interrupts the flow of hydraulic fluid to the winch and locks it in place. And we decided to mount it right on top of the winch horns, so as you’re pulled into the winch it’s right there in front of you like a game show buzzer and you can slap that and it lock the winch in place. So you’re still wrapped up, but you’re not going round and round multiple times, and crewmembers can come and reset the system and back the winch off easily to get you untangled.” 


Teske says E-Stops come in an easy to install kit – 


“The company provides you with all the materials you need, custom button, templates and the cutting heads to cut through the winch horn, and they even supply the hydraulic valve to help stop the flow of the fluid.”


Right now NIOSH is focusing on seiners, but E-Stops can be used on any vessels.


“We’re hoping to expand to other fisheries as well – it can stop not just a winch, but any kind of hydraulically run equipment – so if you’re on a crabber or a trawler that has a piece of hydraulic equipment that you think needs an E-Stop you can adapt it to that as well.”


E-Stop kits cost about $2,850 and right now can be purchased on line at . Call the NIOSH office in Anchorage for more information. Find links at our website


Fish Radio is also brought to you by Ocean Beauty Seafoods, celebrating 100 years of partnership with Alaska’s coastal communities.  In Kodiak, I’m Stephanie Mangini.