Thoughts from the Dock

This new series of blogs will focus on Safety Management Systems and the positive outcomes of implementing a structured health and safety program onboard. Over the next few weeks we’ll look at the Work in Fishing Convention, the FISH Safety Foundation’s crewSAFE Program, safety culture, crew involvement, and a number of related issues.

We know that fishers work in a particularly hazardous environment – one that is constantly moving, vibrating, and often wet, noisy and physically and mentally exhausting. They are sometimes tragically lost overboard, or killed when vessels capsize, collide or sink. They get entangled in winches, fall from work platforms, suffocate in enclosed spaces, and face a number of other work and environment-related dangers.

Much has been done to try and improve the safety outcomes for those in the industry, but the fatality, injury and illness rates remain unacceptably high. Despite a plethora of standards, codes and regulations available to the industry, change is agonisingly slow. Clearly, there is much still to be done to improve safety and health on board fishing vessels.

But just because it’s a hazardous occupation doesn’t mean that we should just accept that people will get hurt. We can put controls in place to reduce the risk to acceptable levels, increasing safety levels for all onboard. And this is the objective of the crewSAFE Safety Management Program promoted by the FISH Safety Foundation.

The crewSAFE Program is a risk-based index-rating Safety Management System (SMS), designed to provide an effective framework to enable a systematic safety management program to be implemented onboard all fishing vessels – from inshore handliners to large offshore factory fishing vessels. To download a free copy of the crewSAFE Program, click here.

Safety needs to be tangible, and this means having something ‘real’ to measure against. This approach then complements the “Think Safety” philosophy by providing a method to “Do Safety” as well. A program like crewSAFE, where specific standards are set and clear guidelines are supplied to meet these standards, provides a basis for the objective measurement of health and safety effort.

A SMS program requires active commitment by shore and vessel management, drive and visible involvement to support implementation, combined with crew participation and involvement to ensure success. It provides the processes required which seek to identify key risk areas and deal with these as well as generate immediate visible improvement on the vessel. As a result, the program produces actions which can be effectively audited and graded. This provides a means of sustaining and improving the quality of outcomes, and also leads to a positive culture of safety being generated.

With the risk-based approach advocated by the ILO Work in Fishing Convention C188, a focused management approach to safety in the fishing industry is needed more than ever.

So, sit back and join us on the journey. As always, any and all Feedback will be greatly appreciated.