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Life-saving clothing for fishermen

01.08.2006
For decades, oilskins have been fishermen’s standard clothing. Now, for the first time, they will be able to kit up in oilskins with built-in buoyancy.

If a fisherman falls into the sea, the new oilskin suit will keep him afloat - in fact, upright in the water, a position that will make it easier to climb on board again, or to be dragged on board by others.

The new suit sports large areas of fluorescent yellow. Both the colour and the built-in buoyancy will improve a fisherman’s chances of being found if he should fall into the sea.

Between January 1988 and June 2005, 80 Norwegian fishermen died at sea, an average of 10 or 11 deaths a year. Either “shipwreck/sinking” or “falling overboard” were responsible for more than half of these deaths.

This was the background for the decision of a handful of Norwegian institutions to develop new clothing for fishermen. The new suit is the result of a cooperative effort involving SINTEF, the Norwegian Fishermen’s Association, the Gjensidige Insurance Company and the equipment manufacturer Regatta.

The aim was to develop a suit that would both promote safety and actually be used. The project group therefore emphasised the importance of developing clothing that would be comfortable to work in. In the process, the members of the project adopted ideas that have already been applied in snowboarding clothing and life-jackets for canoeists. They also chose a design that actually appealed to the fishermen, according to the feedback they have received from users who have tested the suit.

SINTEF started the development process by surveying what fishermen wanted and needed from their work clothing. This material was used as a basis for the design of the new oilskins.

The new suit sports large areas of fluorescent yellow and has been given the name “Regatta Fisherman”. The Norwegian Fishermen’s Association has great hopes for the clothing concept.

Aase Dragland | alfa
Further information:
http://www.sintef.no

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