Fishermen across South Shore and Southwest Nova Scotia are being reminded by the Workers Compensation Board of Nova Scotia (WCB) and the Department of Labor and Advanced Education to practice safe fishing and avoid injuries.
“Fishing is one of the most dangerous occupations in the province, particularly in the harsh winter months,” said Stuart MacLean, acting CEO of the WCB. “We want to remind everyone in the industry to wear proper life vests and check their safety equipment and work procedures to ensure no one gets hurt this season.”(WCxKit)
In 2010, nearly 400 people working in the fishing industry were injured on the job. Of those, 150 were serious injuries that resulted in time lost from work. In the last three years alone, 23 people have died while working in the fishing industry. That is more than a quarter of all workplace fatalities in Nova Scotia during that time.
While injuries related to weather, conditions at sea and overloaded boats are often serious and tragic, sprains and strains are common and financially costly. These injuries are caused by hazards associated with the way work is designed and carried out such as lifting heavy loads.
The seafood processing sector also had its share of injury, with more than 400 injuries in 2010, including nearly 100 injuries causing time lost from work.
“Fishing is a vital part of our culture in Nova Scotia,” said Marilyn More, Minister of Labor and Advanced Education. “That work has incredible value, contributing millions to our economy every year. It is critical that this work be done safely; to reduce the terrible human and financial toll workplace injury takes in this province.”
Seafood processors and any fishing vessel that is based in Nova Scotia must comply with the province’s Occupational Health and Safety Act.
Premiums paid by fishing industry employers for workplace injury insurance are among the highest in Nova Scotia. The 2012 rate is $7.85 per $100 of payroll, up from $7.50 in 2011. That’s well above Nova Scotia’s average assessment rate of $2.65 – a direct result of the number and severity of injuries in the fishing sector.
There are positive signs that the fishing industry is taking action to improve its safety performance. In 2010 the Fisheries Safety Association was established with a mandate of reducing workplace injuries, and over time, workers’ compensation rates.
The WCB partnered with the Fisheries Safety Association and Advanced Labour and Education to produce an advertising campaign featuring hard-hitting safety messages such as “What’s harder? Telling your crew to put on lifejackets or telling their families they aren’t coming home?”(WCxKit)
“We are making progress establishing a safety culture in Nova Scotia, and by working together we can extend that progress to the fishing sector,” said MacLean. “The fishing industry needs a clear focus on safety. Fishermen have faced dangerous conditions for too long.”
Author Robert Elliott, executive vice president, Amaxx Risk Solutions, Inc. has worked successfully for 20 years with many industries to reduce Workers Compensation costs, including airlines, healthcare, printing/publishing, pharmaceuticals, retail, hospitality and manufacturing. He is an editor and contributor to Workers Compensation Management Program: Reduce Costs 20% to 50%. Contact: Info@ReduceYourWorkersComp.com.
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