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Serious About Safety


Our blog discussing workplace safety opportunities in Nova Scotia.

Fishing Safety Now: One year on

It has been one year since the Fishing Safety Now plan launched as part of the Nova Scotia Workplace Safety Strategy.  In the 12 months since, we have seen significant progress in the fishing industry.

“Everyone is talking about safety,” said Lisa Fitzgerald of the Nova Scotia Fisheries Sector Council.  “Conversations are changing.”

The plan was released on June 4, 2015 and outlined 33 recommendations from the Safe at Sea Alliance to improve safety and save lives.  Working groups were formed to help implement these recommendations and began meetings in November. 

The Fisheries Safety Association of Nova Scotia (FSANS) and the Nova Scotia Fisheries Sector Council (NSFSC) took the lead in the groups, with assistance from industry, fisherman and occasionally government.

There are 10 working groups total, split between FSANS and NSFSC.  The groups are:

  • Code of Practice
  • Fatigue, Alcohol and Drugs
  • Weather
  • Lessons Learned
  • Safety Organizations
  • Awareness
  • Real Safety Training and Equipment
  • Agency to Agency
  • Safety Considerations in Relation to Fisheries Management
  • Awareness, Education and Enforcement

Stewart Franck of FSANS said that one year after its introduction, there a noticeable culture change taking place at fisheries in the province. 

Fitzgerald notes that more crews are using safety equipment and PFDs, and WCB rates are at their lowest in 12 years.

Franck said there is still work to be done.  Though crews are using more safety equipment, some segments of the industry are slow to respond to new safety initiatives.

“It’s slow but positive,” said Franck.  “It’s focused on the big prize at the end of coming home safe at the end of the day.”

Groups will have to work to keep people engaged, and make sure that the conversation about safety never stops happening.

“We don’t want this to be just the flavour of the month,” said Fitzgerald.

Fitzgerald said she has been hearing more “good news” stories from fisherman.  Crews are going out to sea better prepared, with the right equipment and the right training.

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