Issue date: 11/01/2013
We would like to make our Members aware of the notice issued by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) www.cdc.gov/niosh concerning fishing vessel operations and the recommendations for ensuring safety of life at sea.
Take a marine safety class at least once every five years – Safety training for fishermen is available, affordable, and saves lives. All fishermen should learn and know how to use basic lifesaving equipment like immersion suits, life rafts, EPIRBs and fire extinguishers.
Perform monthly drills: Abandon ship, Flooding, Fire – Safety training equips fishermen with survival skills and knowledge. Monthly drills give fishermen an opportunity to practice and re-enforce those skills.
Test immersion suit for leaks – When watertight, immersion suits provide thermal protection and flotation in cold water. If an immersion suit has leaks, it will provide less protection from cold water. Instructions for inflation testing immersion suits are available at www.amsea.org.
Heed weather forecasts and avoid fishing in severe sea conditions – Make the decision to stay in port when the seas are too rough for your vessel to operate in. Keep track of forecasts and seek shelter before the storm arrives or intensifies beyond the safe operating limits of your vessel.
Maintain watertight integrity – Inspect and maintain the hull of your vessel and all through-hull fittings. When seas are rough, ensure that watertight doors and hatches are sealed. Inspect and test high water alarms regularly.
Wear a Personal Flotation Device (PFD) on deck – Falls overboard occur without warning or time to prepare. A PFD stowed away on board will not help float a fisherman who has fallen overboard. Wearing a PFD on deck is the single most important thing a fisherman can do to increase survivability following a fall overboard. There are many new styles of PFDs which have been evaluated by fishermen in real working conditions and are comfortable to work in on deck. Results of the NIOSH PFD study are available at www.cdc.gov/niosh/topics/fishing.
Utilise a man overboard alarm system – Man overboard alarms are devices which alert others instantly to a fall overboard emergency, even if the fall was not witnessed. Systems vary in features and cost, but even the most inexpensive and basic system can save lives by immediately sounding an alarm if a fisherman falls overboard. Some of these systems can also benefit fishermen who work alone on small vessels by shutting down the engine if the sole operator falls overboard. This gives the fisherman, especially one prepared by wearing a PFD, a chance to get back to the vessel and re-board it.
Conduct monthly man-overboard drills – if you fall overboard, would you want it to be the first time your crewmates tried to recover a man overboard? Practicing man-overboard recovery procedures is essential for a crew to perform well in an actual emergency.
Install emergency stop (e-stop) devices on deck machinery – Deck machinery, especially deck winches, are particularly hazardous and result in many fatal and non-fatal injuries.
Emergency-stop buttons have been developed specifically for deck machinery on fishing vessels and can be adapted and retrofitted onto any winch or other machinery. More information about e-stops for fishing vessels can be found at www.cdc.gov/niosh/topics/fishing.
National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH)