The Maritime and Coastguard Agency UK (UK MCA) published a circular reminding owners, employers, skippers and crew of UK fishing vessels of their responsibilities regarding health and safety following a number near misses, accidents, and a fatality – during lifting operations.
It is highlighted that scallop dredgers should take into serious consideration the circular.
The owner/employer shall ensure all lifting operations are properly planned, appropriately supervised and conducted in a safe manner. It is a further requirement, by thorough examination and inspection, that the owner/employer has the equipment inspected to ensure it is both safe to operate and capable of operating safely.
Moreover, since the introduction of ILO 188 concerning the Work in Fishing Convention, it is a requirement for every owner to take responsibility for the health and safety of those working on their fishing vessel(s), its operations and the manner in which it is operated2. The owner / employer shall identify the operations that pose a risk to the skipper and crew through a risk assessment. The owner / employer shall ensure that the company instructions are passed to the skipper of the vessel.
The owner is also obliged to identify key areas of risk in respect of lifting operations in accordance with the Fishing Vessels (Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1997 (SI 1997/2962). The owner must identify, for example, potential crush zones and blind sectors due to vessel structure.
UK MCA highlights that
If crush zones or blind sectors exist, then the owner must ensure appropriate measures have been put in place to mitigate the associated risks and ensure safe operations. If a lifting operation cannot be undertaken safely then it shall not continue.
Due to recent cases scallop dredging has been identified as being of particular concern due to the number of reported incidents.
Overall, UK MCA recommends that the fishing sector should keep in mind the following:
- In order to determine the extent of the issue surveyors will request the lifting plan during attendance on a fishing vessel.
- Owners, operators, skippers, crew and safety advisors are requested to be aware of these issues and take appropriate action.
- Owners shall ensure that their obligations under ILO 188 have been met in providing their crew with a safe place of work. The manner in which the vessel should be operated shall be clearly provided to the skipper.