Reducing Slips, Trips and Falls, and Associated Injuries in the Fishing Industry (part 2 of 2)

Reprinted from September 2022 Commercial Fisheries News

Image by Myriams-Fotos from Pixabay 
Image by Myriams-Fotos from Pixabay

by Brie Weisman, OTR/L with Maine AgrAbility

Last month we discussed best practices to reduce slips, trips and falls (STFs) while fishing. This month we’ll cover exercises for a strong and limber core. Strength and agility dramatically reduce both the likelihood and severity of STFs. Because falls can be reduced but not eliminated entirely, we’ll also discuss how to fall correctly to minimize injuries. This cover falls on board, as overboard falls constitute a real emergency and by reducing on-board falls it may help reduce the chances of falling overboard.


For aging fishermen, these exercises help counter muscle loss and slower reaction time.  For fishermen of any age or fitness level, they improve performance in the midst of accidents and emergencies. They also have the added benefit of leaving you feeling less tired and sore after strenuous workdays.

  • Do bicep curls with dumbbells while balancing on one foot.
  • Stand on one leg while moving the other forward/backward and side-to-side slowly. Increase the difficulty by standing on a pillow or exercise equipment designed for improving balance.
  • Squats. (Beginner squats: from a stand to sit and sit to stand with a standard kitchen chair without using arms. Progress to not sitting back on a chair.) As you bend, keep knees over ankles–don’t let them extend over toes.
  •  Heel-toe walking, forwards and backwards.
  • Play with the kids! Jumprope, dance, hopscotch, run obstacles, dodgeball, etc. If you feel the need to let kids win, try your utmost on your own as well. If young kids are legitimately beating you, practice until they can’t!


The difference between a good and bad fall isn’t luck, it’s a cool head and planning.

  • LOOK. The moment balance is lost, seek a safe location toward which to direct your fall, away from people and hazards.
  • DIRECT your fall by turning/leaning into where you want to go. If necessary, swing arms in that direction to create directional momentum.
  • RELAX. Fall relaxed, curled up, rolling into the fall, to a side if possible.
  • PROTECT. Use a shoulder to protect your head if necessary.
  • If you cannot fall as described above, try to land on soft, fleshy body parts, like buttocks or shoulders.
  • AVOID using arms to break falls! That risks breaking or otherwise injuring shoulders, long bones of the arms, wrists, or fingers.
  • PRACTICE. Gymnasts and martial artists train to fall. Seek out a personal trainer with these skills.


Fight the impulse to spring up as if nothing happened. Excitement, fear, and embarrassment all cloud judgment; adrenaline masks serious injuries. Rushing to your feet on a sprain or break can significantly worsen that injury. In the event of a hard fall or a direct blow to the head, neck, or spine, the possibility of a spinal or head injury is very real. In the event of any fall, follow basic first aid protocol for a full bodily inventory for injuries( If someone else can perform the inventory, that is helpful.  This is especially true if the fall involves the head, neck, or back.  IImmediate medical attention should always be sought for black outs, dizziness, nausea, headaches, tenderness to touch on the spine of head, or visible spine or head injuries. With concussions and other serious head injuries, immediate medical attention provides the best hope for complete recovery.