New safety system timely in boosting awareness

The introduction of a new maritime safety system is boosting awareness of risk management in the commercial fishing sector, Maritime New Zealand Director Keith Manch believes.

The release of the 2014 Health and Safety Attitudes and Behaviours in the New Zealand Workforce surveys – involving agriculture, construction, forestry, manufacturing and commercial fishing – shows that businesses care about the welfare of workers, but this doesn’t always translate into safe work practices.

The new Maritime Operator Safety System (MOSS), introduced in July last year, puts an emphasis on commercial maritime operators, including fishermen, identifying risks specific to their operations and putting in place measures to manage them.

MOSS also requires operators to have plans in place for reporting and recording incidents and ensuring staff receive health and safety training.

Commercial operators will transition into MOSS as their previous safe ship management certificates expire over the next four years. To date, around 158 commercial fishing operators are in MOSS, or are completing the application process. In total there are around 1000 commercial operators holding fishing permits.

To date 202 operations are in MOSS, covering more than 400 vessels, from a total of approximately 1700 operators. Where operators have yet to enter MOSS, Maritime NZ conducts audits to ensure the safety of operations.

Maritime NZ also introduced a new a seafarer certification framework, SeaCert, in July last year which will raise the level of competency for seafarers, including fishermen.

“The survey results highlight the importance of people working the fishing industry having a good appreciation of the risks in their workplaces and how to manage them,” Mr Manch said.

“Feedback from operators who have gone through the MOSS process indicates they are now more aware of the hazards of their operations, and have specific plans in place to manage these risks. MOSS has a focus on ensuring operations as a whole are safe, beyond simply looking at individual vessels.”

Survey results released today show that in the commercial fishing sector:

  • about 65% of employers say their business practices are strongly influenced by the concern for the welfare of workers
  • around 43% of employers and 51% of workers believe the industry is risker than others, but only around 4% of employers and 19% of workers felt there was a higher risk of a serious injury in their own workplace in the next 12 months
  • around half of workers said a range of risky behaviours took place “from time to time”, such as working when overtired (61%), or sick/injured (56%)
  • 92% of workers and 91% of employers are taking steps to prevent accidents from happening, including:
    • a focus on using equipment and machinery safely
    • talking about health and safety risks and how to manage them
    • getting HSE training
  • 76% of workers and 80% of employers think workers and their immediate bosses have the greatest responsibility for keeping people safe at work.

The 2014 Health and Safety Attitudes and Behaviours in the New Zealand Survey Workforce survey was a collaboration between Maritime New Zealand and WorkSafe New Zealand.

Maritime New Zealand is responsible for health and safety in the commercial fishing sector. WorkSafe is responsible for health and safety in the agriculture, construction, forestry and manufacturing sectors.

Notifications of fatalities and reported injuries in the commercial fishing sector:

  • 2014/15 (to date): 29 reported injury incidents (including 2 fatalities)
  • 2013/14: 49 (3 fatalities)
  • 2012/13: 51 (4 fatalities
  • 2011/12: 47 (12 fatalities – includes 8 who died following the Easyrider sinking).