WorkSafeBC Video Stresses Use of Personal Flotation Devices in the Fishing Industry

Commercial fishing is one of British Columbia’s most dangerous occupations, and drowning is the leading cause of death for the province’s fishermen.

WorkSafeBC has released a new video as part of their efforts to raise awareness of the importance of fishing industry workers wearing life-saving personal flotation devices (PFDs).

The new video, “Turning the Tide: PFDs in the Fishing Industry,” showcases two tragic incidents where commercial fishing workers lost their lives at sea and one story of a guide who nearly drowned. In each incident, the use of a PFD might have changed events and potentially saved lives.  

Commercial fishing is one of British Columbia’s most dangerous occupations, and drowning is the leading cause of death for the province’s fishermen. According to WorkSafeBC statistics, there were 26 work-related deaths in the commercial fishing industry between 2007 and 2017. Among those work-related deaths, 16 were related to drowning.

The video features the accounts of Chris Cook and Dennis Woloshuk describing how the commercial fishing boat they were working on capsized in freezing temperatures, as well as Kim Peper talking about her son, who died while working on a prawn fishing boat. Sport-fishing guide Ben Angus also talks about an incident in which he fell overboard and nearly drowned. All of these events might have been prevented had the workers been wearing PFDs.

“It’s easy to become complacent about the risk of drowning while working on a fishing boat, but the danger is very real,” says Patrick Olsen, Manager, Prevention Field Services for WorkSafeBC. “PFDs have evolved tremendously compared to 10 or 20 years ago — find the one that works best for you and wear it. It could save your life.”

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