Insurance provider advises on fishing vessel safety

29 May 2012
The Shipowners’ Club has produced the handbook ‘Fishing vessel safety’. Credit: Stephen McGowan, 2006/Marine Photobank

The Shipowners’ Club has produced the handbook ‘Fishing vessel safety’. Credit: Stephen McGowan, 2006/Marine Photobank

A comprehensive handbook, ‘Fishing vessel safety’, has been produced by mutual insurance provider The Shipowners’ Club, which aims to make crew members more aware and assist crew and owners in recognising potential dangers and operating hazards.

A comprehensive handbook, ‘Fishing vessel safety’, has been produced by mutual insurance provider The Shipowners’ Club, which aims to make crew members more aware and assist crew and owners in recognising potential dangers and operating hazards.

The International Labour Organisation estimated in 1999 that 24,000 fatalities occurred in capture fisheries worldwide every year and various studies since show fatalities on fishing vessels remain a real threat, making fishing the most dangerous job in the world.

The Shipowners’ Club records historically show personal injury and illness as the area causing the most reported cases.

“We realised a safety guide was warranted as we became aware of the extent and nature of incidents that our Members have experienced, as well as seeing evidence from other industry studies,” explained Louise Hall, loss prevention manager in Shipowners’ London branch. “The intention was not to create a bible of safety for fishing vessels, more to highlight crucial areas related to our historical claims and to address those.”

“The booklet can be used by the skipper or the shore-side office as a guide to what is expected of them regarding training of their crews, safety and maintenance. It can also be used by crew members to help them take responsibility for their own safety and to do their own risk assessment when on board. It can be read all at once but it can also be used as a reference guide as well.”

The publication is divided into sections that cover the vessel, basic stability, navigation, working safety equipment and risk assessments, with real-life case studies included as useful appendices.

Case studies
Ms Hall explains that real case studies have been included in the handbook. “When you’re reading about an incident that has actually happened, there is significantly more impact on the reader than a hypothetical event, and so this is a useful training aid,” she said.

The booklet urges fishermen to remember that their vessels are moving; often with wet platforms and therefore the risk associated with any task will dramatically increase. The decks of a fishing vessel are very busy with many pieces of equipment i.e. ropes, wires, nets and shackles being utilised simultaneously.

Ms Hall highlights the importance of wearing a flotation device, and says that the highest percentage of instances of death is caused by people not wearing life-jackets or life-belts.

The booklet was written with the assistance of Club Member Austral Fisheries Pty Ltd, as well as the North Pacific Fishing Vessel Owners’ Association and Seafish. Shipowners’ is also supporting Seafish in an initiative to promote better safety practice through the provision of onboard safety kits.

The Shipowners’ Club loss prevention publication ‘Fishing vessel safety’ is available free of charge to Club Members.

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