Crew Safety Training – Prepare And Protect your Crew

Ryan Ford is Program Manager for Fish Safe

BRITISH COLUMBIA – On the job training is common in many industries and safety orientations are mandatory in most if not all workplaces. Providing necessary training to keep workers safe is an accepted and expected employer responsibility, and fishing is no different. In fact both WorkSafeBC and Transport Canada regulations set a high standard for training where emphasis is placed upon ensuring that both operational and emergency training occurs before work begins.

In addition to this, COVID-19 has created new requirements for vessel owners and masters as they are now responsible for training crew on the vessel-specific protocols that are designed to protect the health of crew and the communities they interact with while fishing.

(Fish Safe has produced a wealth of resources to help employers and workers deal with COVID-19 – please see our dedicated COVID-19 web page at www.fishsafebc.com).

In short, identifying the risks in a fishing environment and making sure all crew know the safe work practices required to manage the risks before they begin working, is what’s required.

A checklist helps us to make sure we don’t miss any important safety or procedural steps. In a hectic environment such as on a fishing deck, mundane routine matters can be easily overlooked under the strain of more pressing activities. They remind us of the minimum necessary steps and make them clear.

Checklists should also focus on the “killer items” and how to prevent them. If we make the checklist too onerous it tends to motivate people to skip parts.

So, keep it simple and don’t overthink it. Figure out what the top 4 or 5 risks are on your vessel and then, using your checklist, teach the safe work practices you need your crew to know – before they start working.

The benefits of using a checklist can be the ability to identify issues in procedures or hazards and deal with them.  It also helps create an atmosphere of teamwork where the inexperienced crew are more likely to point out a concern to the master.

Fish Safe is in the business of giving fishermen tools that are written in the language of the profession and to this end we have produced easy to access and easy to use checklists on our website at fishsafebc.com/downloadable-tools.

For instance, the “New Crew & New Season Orientation” tool gives vessel owners and masters an easy template for creating a vessel-specific crew training tool.  The helpful ‘How to’ guide provides easy step-by-step instructions that take the guess work out of the crew orientation process – just remember, keep it simple!

Without doubt, fishing looks a little different this year. And, although new risks like COVID-19 have emerged and must be dealt with, traditional fishing risks leading to personal injury, man overboards and vessel stability are as present as ever. We therefore urge all fishermen to remain vigilant, especially our skippers, and to be ready to train your crews before they begin their work, as much as possible.  If you prepare your crew, you will protect your crew and possibly enjoy your safest season yet!

Fish Safe