Session 3D – Utilizing an Industry-Led Integrated Approach to Advancing Safety, and Reducing Injuries, Illness & Fatalities in Commercial Fishing

Monday, June 11, 1:45pm -3:15pm, Arts and Administration Building, Room A1043

David Decker, Newfoundland and Labrador Fish Harvesting Safety Association (NL-FHSA); Charles Coady, Workplace NL; Loyola Power, Service NL; Sharon Walsh, Fish Food and Allied Workers Union (FFAW/UNIFOR); Mark Dolomount, Newfoundland and Labrador Professional Fish Harvesters Certification Board (PFHCB); Bill Broderick, NL-FHSA


In the past two decades, Newfoundland and Labrador (NL) has witnessed significant progress in the area of fishing industry safety – particularly in terms of fish harvesters’ ability to survive accidents at sea. Crews are better trained, vessels are better equipped, and there is more safety information available than ever before. Despite these improvements, the number of injuries and fatalities remains alarmingly high.

This session will look at the successes of utilizing an industry-led, integrated holistic approach to advancing safety in the fish harvesting sector in NL. The Newfoundland and Labrador Fish Harvesting Safety Association (NL-FHSA) was established in 2013 as a joint venture of the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador, Workplace NL, and the Professional Fish Harvesters’ Certification Board (PFHCB). The NL-FHSA represents the co-operative effort of the fish harvesting sector leading the promotion of safety education and awareness initiatives, and working to reduce workplace injuries, illness and fatalities. It has a sole mandate of improving fishing vessel safety, with a primary focus on prevention; promoting and developing a positive industry-wide safety culture through the identification and coordination of relevant, accessible, timely and cost-effective safety education and resources.

To this end, the NL-FHSA regularly engages with its primary stakeholders, owner/operators and crewmembers in each of the three fleet sectors. Most notably, since its inception the NL-FHSA has established contact with thousands of fish harvesters in the province as survey respondents and attendees at over 80 fish harvesting committee meetings, as well as two safety symposiums. Additionally, the NL-FHSA collaborates with its industry partners, including: the PFHCB; the Occupational Health and Safety Branch of Service NL; Workplace NL; Department of Fisheries and Land Resource; Transport Canada; Fish, Food and Allied Workers Union; Fisheries and Oceans Canada; Canadian Coast Guard; Marine Institute; and SafetyNet. Support is also provided by the NL Federation of Labour and the NL Employers’ Council, as partners in the sector safety approach.

Based on its collaborative, partnership approach and unique understanding of the sector, the NL-FHSA is well-positioned to lead the strategy necessary to achieve enhanced safety in the fish harvesting industry.

The presenters include:

NL-FHSA – David Decker will introduce the session, providing a brief introduction of the NL-FHSA and the concept and impetus of an industry-led integrated approach to advancing safety in commercial fishing.

Workplace NL – Charles Coady will present provincial injury statistics for the fishing sector, including the significant “cost” of lost time injuries and fatalities, Workplace NL’s strategy of supporting Sector Safety Councils/Associations as part of their injury prevention strategy, and the opportunity to improve safety and prevent injuries and fatalities through this collaborative approach.

Service NL, OH&S Division – Loyola Power will present on the uniqueness and challenges of implementing an OH&S strategy and regulatory regime in the fishing industry, and the opportunities to make great progress in this area utilizing an integrated collaborative approach as a complement to their ongoing regulatory enforcement efforts.

FFAW/UNIFOR – Sharon Walsh will present on the long-standing commitment of fish harvesters to safety, and given that harvesters know their industry best, the importance of incorporating an industry-led approach. She will address some of the geo-social challenges of addressing safety in the industry, and how through fish harvester engagement, rapport and buy-in many of these challenges can be overcome.

PFHCB – Mark Dolomount will present on the critical role of education, training and awareness in improving safety. He will address some of the challenges with the OHS requirements of the new federal Fishing Vessel Safety Regulations, how a regulatory framework alone is not enough, and how the NL-FHSA can play a major role in supporting regulatory compliance and implementing real change onboard vessels.

NL-FHSA – Bill Broderick will present on the priorities of the NL-FHSA to advance fishing industry safety. The association works collaboratively with industry partners and is established as the leading organization in fish harvesting safety in the province. The associations Fish Harvester Safety Training Program will highlight one strategy utilized by the NL-FHSA to address the challenges of fish harvesting safety by utilizing a holistic industry-led approach to safety promotion and injury prevention.


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