BLUE HILL – Northeast Center for Occupational Health and Safety is reeling in fisherman to keep them safe while on the water.
NEC researchers are working with commercial lobstermen from Maine to West Virginia to increase the usage of life jackets while working.
“Lobstermen have the most fatalities overboard in the northeast. We started working with lobstermen to find life jackets that they felt they could wear and work in and be comfortable,” said Jessica Echard, a research coordinator.
Echard said lobstermen don’t like to wear a typical life jacket while working because they can be too bulky and get in the way when pulling lobster traps.
That’s when NEC thought something could be done to make them more desirable. The nonprofit organization created the project, Life Jackets for Lobstermen.
They designed flotation devices that have a slimmer cut and come up higher on a person’s chest.
Workers travel around in a life jacket van bringing the life jackets to the lobstermen.
“We have everything from inflatables to foam to bid, to T-shirts, everything that we could come up with,” Echard said.
They offer 11 different styles and it is all based off of what the lobstermen said they wanted to see in a life jacket.
“We asked them, what do you want? What do you need? That’s why we have the selection that we have now because the fisherman gave us what they wanted,” said Erin Lally, field research coordinator.
Lally said the response to these life jackets has been amazing.
“Especially the families of the fisherman, this is all thanks to them. They want their fisherman to be safe and come home at the end of the day,” Lally said.
The goal of the life jacket is to make sure lobstermen feel comfortable and safe.
To achieve this goal, Echard and Lally encourage lobstermen to stop by to take a look at each model they offer.
“The best life jacket you’re going to wear is the one you’re going to wear,” Lally said. “We highly encourage them coming to us and trying stuff on.”
Echard and Lally will be making their way to Bass Harbor and Mount Desert Island next.