Fishing Safety

Risk management tools

Safety risk management is important in fisheries and allows fishing vessel owners, captains and crew to manage risks involved in fishing operations. Safety risk management is commonly used to identify hazards, assess the likelihood of a hazard to happen and manage the associated risks. Safety risk management supports better decision making and improves safety in fishing operations.

Hazards in fisheries include anything that could do harm to health or safety of the crew or vessel. Examples of hazards in fisheries include, for instance: storms, high waves, a wet and slippery deck, open winches on deck, insufficient lighting in the workspace, engine failure, fire on board, fishing hooks, and fatigue.

A risk is the likelihood and potential consequence of harm from the hazard. For example, the likelihood of falling overboard is higher during a storm or when using alcohol or drugs. To manage the risk of falling overboard, the vessel owner or captain can, for instance, instruct not to work on deck during storms, wear a life jacket and lifeline, and consider banning or limiting the use of alcohol.

There is a range of tools that can be used in safety risk management.

To identify the hazards in fisheries generally an existing list is used as basis, such as from the Irish Health and Safety Authority or the US National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH).To assess the likelihood of a hazard, FAO has been applying various tools, including the widely used risk matrix for easy identification of the level of risk. A risk matrix is a tool that combines the likelihood of an accident to happen with the potential consequences.

The ILO, National Fisheries Association of Thailand (NFAT) and SEAFDEC applied a simple but effective methodology to identify hazards, assess risks and actions to be taken to prevent or mitigate the risks in commercial fishing in Thailand.

After having identified a hazard and having assessed the risk involved, it is important to eliminate the risk or reduce the consequence or likelihood of the risk. A range of tools are applied by safety professionals, such as the hierarchy of controls, which is frequently used in Australia and by NIOSH in the USA, and which helps to determine solutions for minimizing or removing the risks.

For additional information on safety risk management tools, please contact [email protected].