On deck? Put it on.Published on: June 13, 2019
It’s now required that all crewmembers on the deck of a fishing vessel wear a PFD or a lifejacket.
PFDs save lives
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. There were 24 work-related deaths in the commercial fishing industry between 2007 and 2018. Of those, 15 were drowning related. No matter what your role is on the vessel, crew safety affects everyone.
If you’re a crewmember on the deck of a fishing vessel, you are required by regulation to wear a PFD or lifejacket. As the master (or skipper), your crew will follow your example; it’s your responsibility to make sure everyone on deck wears a PFD — including you.
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 and lifejackets
- Having a safety plan in place
- Establishing procedures and assigning responsibilities to each crewmember to cover all emergencies
- Conducting drills at the start of each fishing season, when there is a change of crew, and at periodic intervals to ensure that crewmembers are familiar with emergency procedures
- Making sure that a copy of the Workers Compensation Act (Act) and Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) Regulation are available for reference
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.
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.
Brochures and booklets
- Regulatory amendment: A primer on personal flotation devices and lifejackets
Describes the requirements for PFDs and lifejackets when working on the deck of a fishing vessel or in a seine skiff.
- Immersion suits
Describes the vessel master's and the wearer's responsibilities for immersion suit.
- 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.