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Amended regulations aimed at improving safety on commercial fishing vessels

By Richmond Sentinel

Published 1:01 PDT, Fri June 21, 2019

It’s now required that all crewmembers on the deck of a fishing vessel wear a PFD or a lifejacket.

The amendments regulate specific conditions under which crewmembers are required to wear PFDs on commercial fishing vessels. Previously, crewmembers were only required to wear a PFD on a fishing vessel when working under conditions that involved a risk of drowning. It is now required that all crewmembers on the deck of a fishing vessel wear a PFD or a lifejacket.

“Commercial fishing is one of the most dangerous occupations in British Columbia and drowning is the leading cause of death among B.C. fishermen,” says Patrick Olsen, Manager, Prevention Field Services for WorkSafeBC. “Wearing a PFD reduces the risk of drowning and has been proven to save lives.”

Between 2007 and 2018, there were 24 work-related deaths in the commercial fishing industry, with 15 of those related to drowning.

The amendments to Part 24 of the Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) Regulation, which regulates diving, fishing and other marine operations, took effect on June 3, 2019.

“No matter what your role is on the vessel, crew safety affects everyone,” Olsen says. “We are addressing the specific hazards of commercial fishing to better ensure crewmember safety.”

The amendments are consistent with the recommendations made by the Transportation Safety Board after the fatal capsizing of the fishing vessel Caledonian near Tofino, B.C., in September 2015. Three crewmembers were killed. The lone survivor was the only crewmember wearing a PFD.

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