Safety on deck

Safe crews fish more

Why worry about safety on deck?

Most accidents on deck result in a shoulder injury as a person falls and sprains or tears their shoulder, leaving a person incapacitated for days, sometimes weeks.

About 80 injuries a year involve the shoulder. But the worst outcome of a slip is a man over board accident.

There are many potentially unsafe situations on deck.

What HSWA says about safety

Risks on the deck must be eliminated or minimised.

Crew (both those on wages and those who are self-employed) must take reasonable steps to ensure that nothing they do at work harms themselves or any other person. You are responsible for taking sensible safety precautions – like keeping the deck clean and tidy and letting the skipper know if the deck is unsafe to work on.

Operators and skippers must make sure the boat is safe (so far as is reasonably practgicable). Operators must involve workers in managing risks on the boat. This is a good opportunity for you to raise any concerns you have about safety on deck.

The main reason for slips and falls

  • Slippery deck
  • Improper use of catwalks
  • Missing grating, railings and stanchions
  • Missing warning signs
  • Improper personal protective equipment (PPEs) especially safety shoes and safety harness
  • Lack of situational awareness
  • Lack of awareness of the job
  • Absence of safe job analysis

Tips for safe decks

  1. Mop up slippery decks, and flush fish slime from the deck frequently.
  2. Keep decks as clear as possible at all times – equipment, ropes, fish bins or ladders should be tied or stowed up off the deck.
  3. Heavy objects (blocks) used aloft should not be left loose or swinging.
  4. Rope off breaks in the deck – and make the rope visible by tying rags to it.
  5. Water-hoses should be coiled and hung on brackets.
  6. Hatch covers should be neatly piled out of passageways when hatches are open. Don’t leave hatches partially opened or concealed with a tarpaulin, and don’t leave a hatch open for longer than you have to.
  7. Supplies and fish boxes carried on deck should be covered, if necessary, and securely lashed.
  8. Make sure scuppers aren’t blocked by equipment, tools, or debris.
  9. Don’t stow heavy items high on the vessel as it will affect the centre of gravity making it unstable. Stow at main deck level or below.
  10. Don’t store gear in passageways. Keep walkways, passages and waists clear.
  11. Safely store sharp objects (knives, gaffs, etc) in galley or on deck.
  12. Keep clean rags in a box or locker. Dispose of dirty rags in metal containers.
  13. Fire extinguishers should be properly located and never used as coat racks.
  14. Keep a bolt/wire cutter (or knife) on board to cut lines or tangled gear.

Report any accident

A master or skipper must report any accident, incident or serious harm injury under section 31 of the Maritime Transport Act 1994. This applies to all New Zealand vessels. You must report an accident “as soon as practicable”. This means as soon as you are able to do so after you have secured the safety of people, your boat and the environment, and when you have communication available.

Sometimes people are concerned that reporting an accident or incident to MNZ will result in prosecution. In exceptional circumstances, MNZ may use the information provided to support an investigation, however this is very rarely the case.

This information is general guidance only. If you have questions about your responsibilities under HSWA, we suggest talking to your local maritime officer; but for specific advice about your legal duties or setting up your business, we recommend talking to a lawyer.

Safety on deck

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