WorkSafeBC Strengthens PFD Regulations for Fishing Vessels

"Commercial fishing is one of the most dangerous occupations in British Columbia, and drowning is the leading cause of death among B.C. fishermen," said Patrick Olsen, manager of Prevention Field Services for WorkSafeBC. Between 2007 and 2018, there were 24 work-related deaths in the commercial fishing industry, and 15 of those were drownings, the agency reported.

WorkSafeBC has amended its health and safety regulations related to personal flotation devices (PFDs) with the goal of improving the safety of crew members working aboard fishing vessels. The amendments regulate specific conditions under which crew members are required to wear PFDs on commercial fishing vessels; while crew members were required to wear a PFD on a fishing vessel only when working under conditions that involved a risk of drowning, now all crew members on the deck of a fishing vessel must 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," said Patrick Olsen, manager of 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, and 15 of those were drownings, the agency reported.

The amendments to Part 24 of the Occupational Health and Safety 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. We are addressing the specific hazards of commercial fishing to better ensure crew member safety," Olsen said.

The amendments are consistent with 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 crew member wearing a PFD.

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