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Home and Dry : Preventing Man Overboard Fatalities in our Fishing Industry

A new campaign on man overboard prevention has launched in a bid to make the commercial fishing industry in Scotland safer.

Viviers Ltd Portsmouth onboard Vigilante P3 Scalloping on the Solent

This campaign highlights the three simple steps that those who own or work on fishing vessels can take to reduce the risk of death from falling over board. 

The Home and Dry campaign’s dedicated safety website offers helpful resources to help those working on fishing vessels to stay safe. It includes videos on how to do a risk assessment, advice on Man Overboard drills and training and how to wear a PFD properly

Over the recent winter, seven fishermen tragically lost their lives whilst working on fishing vessels, including one from Shetland. Six of those fatal incidents saw fishermen ending up in the water.

Falling overboard is a major cause of death in the fishing industry.  85% of deaths involve people ending up in the water and 42% of all deaths are recorded as man overboard incidents.

Over the last 10 years (2011 to 2020), the Marine Accident Investigation Branch (MAIB), reported 60 fatalities from UK fishing vessels and 51 of those ended up in water.  25 deaths were recorded as man overboard incidents. The highest number of fatalities is on vessels under 15 metres. 

The Fishing Industry Safety Group (FISG) is launching its latest Home and Dry campaign focused on prevention of man overboard incidents. To help reduce deaths at sea from falling overboard, the campaign is reminding those who work on fishing vessels to take three simple steps:

  1. Complete a written risk assessment and review regularly
  2. Practise Man Overboard drills regularly
  3. Always wear a Personal Flotation Device (PFD) on deck for if the worst happens

The campaign’s dedicated safety website offers helpful resources from a range of organisations, to help those working on fishing vessels to stay safe. It includes videos on how to do a risk assessment, advice on Man Overboard drills and training and how to wear a PFD properly.  

“Don’t wait for an accident to happen to brush up on safety management.” says John Clarke, a Scottish vessel owner and skipper who was pulled overboard by a rope in 2013.

“It’s not until I was in hospital, attached to a bed and having to sit through countless operations that it dawned on me that I was lucky to survive. It was at that moment that I decided I would do everything I could to ensure what happened to me never happened to one of my crew.”

The Fishing Industry Safety Group (FISG) is a group of fishing industry organisations, charities, public bodies and regulators set up to improve the safety of commercial fishing at sea.

Derek Cardno, Safety Officer at the Scottish Fishermen’s Federation which is a member of FISG, says: “This campaign is coming at a crucial time for the fishing industry, with seven fishermen losing their lives over winter we want to ensure fishermen are doing everything they can to keep themselves safe at sea.

It’s also important to remind vessel owners and skippers that some safety actions are required by law – such as the written risk assessments and wearing a PFD on deck. As the weather gets warmer and smaller boats get ready to get back out to sea, we’re asking fishermen to take a moment to see if they could do more to improve safety practices on their vessels.” 

The campaign website is www.homeanddry.uk

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  1. About 25 years ago, my husband was on a fishing boat and was being good and wearing his life jacket. Some of the fishermen were ragging him about it, and he said that he’d promised his wife that he would wear it. They said “She’ll never know.” He said “Yes, she will!”
    He was surprised at how many fishermen on fishing boats didn’t bother with their life-jackets – because – well – at any time – they could end up in the sea!

    He says that fisherman these days are mostly much better about it – maybe that’s one instance where Health & Safety rules are a good thing – if you wear your life-jacket, you’re not being a soft-lad, you’re just not risking the Insurance!

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