Maine Lobstermen to Help Design Flotation Devices Aimed at Preventing Drownings

Nov 29, 2016

PORTLAND, Maine - A regional safety organization plans to recruit lobstermen in Maine to help design a personal flotation device, or PFD.  The aim is to prevent drownings.

Researchers with the Northeast Center for Occupational Health and Safety plan to begin visiting docks in Maine and Massachusetts over the winter.

One-hundred-sixty lobstermen will be paid to test different types of life vests for a month to determine which designs work best for daily use.  Rebecca Weil is the center's research coordinator.

"For lobstermen, it's particularly hard to wear life jackets when you don't want to get entangled in your traps," Weil says. "You don't want something getting in your way or being bulky or hot."

Weil says the lobstermen will be using PFD's that incorporate innovative designs.  After getting feedback, changes will be made, if needed, so that the lobstermen will actually wear the devices. 

Revised PFD's will be tested by 135 lobstermen for a period of nine months. Falls overboard are the leading cause of workplace deaths for New England lobstermen.