WorkSafeBC Home

On deck? Put it on.

Published on: March 03, 2017

PFDs save lives

On deck? Put it on.

For those in a high-risk industry like commercial fishing, it’s never “just another day at work.” Drowning is the leading cause of death for B.C.’s fishermen, and safety in commercial fishing remains a top concern. From 2011 to 2015, 10 people never made it home from work, 8 of these fatalities were drownings which might have been prevented had PFDs been worn. No matter what your role is on the vessel, crew safety affects everyone.

As the Skipper, your crew will follow your example; it’s your responsibility to make sure everyone on deck wears a PFD — including you.

If you’re on the deck of your fishing vessel, put your PFD on. As the leader of the boat and the main driver of safety while on the water, if you’re wearing your PFD, your crew will wear theirs too.

Crew safety: what are your responsibilities?

As the skipper, you’re responsible for the health and safety of your crew while on the water. Ensuring the safety of your crew includes:

  • Providing training and instruction on workplace hazards
  • Making sure everyone on the crew — including you — uses protective equipment and devices, including PFDs
  • Having a safety plan in place
  • Making sure that a copy of the Act and Regulation are available for reference

Both owners and masters (skippers) of fishing vessels are employers. Under the Act and the Regulation they have varying and overlapping duties and responsibilities.

Skippers, because they have the most control during fishing operations, are the employer with primary responsibility for the health and safety of the crew while the vessel is being operated.

Masters’ and owners’ full legal roles and responsibilities can be found under Part 3 of the Act (see sections 106,115, 118 and 124), and Part 24 of the OHSR and Guideline G24.69.

How do I help keep my crew safe?

While the Skipper or Master is legally responsible for safety on the vessel, creating a culture of health and safety while working on the water is everyone’s responsibility. Here are some resources to help you and your crew stay safe.

Safety pamphlets

Safety booklet

Hazard alerts

  • Fisherman drowns after falling from fishing boat
    A salmon fisherman working alone on a gillnet fishing boat accidentally fell into the water. His boat did not have guardrails or a lifeline. The fisherman was not wearing a personal flotation device or a lifejacket.
  • PFDs must be worn to save lives
    A crewmember accidentally fell overboard while black cod fishing. Always wear a personal flotation device (PFD) while on deck of any vessel.