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The Health & Safety Impact of ILO188 - Work in Fishing Convention 2007

The Convention, implemented into UK law on 31st December 2018 by the Merchant Shipping (Work in Fishing Convention) Regulations 2018 and Merchant Shipping (Work in Fishing Convention) (Consequential Provisions) Regulations 2018, was launched with the intention to widen protections available to those working on fishing vessels. The Convention includes a variety of provisions relating to requirements for working on-board fishing vessels such as: providing a minimum age; the need for a valid medical certificate; repatriation rights; standard of accommodation and food; the introduction of a Fishermen’s Work Agreement; and significant health and safety provisions.

The implementing Regulations amend the health and safety provisions contained in the Merchant Shipping and Fishing Vessels (Health and Safety at Work) Regulations 1997 so as to include all fishermen, regardless of their status as share fishermen or otherwise. The amended Regulations apply to all UK flagged fishing vessels and any non-UK fishing vessels which are in a UK port or UK waters.

At the forefront of the Regulations are the requirements for the owners to ensure that fishermen are properly trained and supervised; and to ensure that proper risk assessments have been carried out. It is important with these Regulations in force, all owners ensure that they have carry out and document a suitable risk assessment for all work being carried out on the vessel, as far as is reasonably practicable. The skipper and crew should be involved in the risk assessment; however the overall responsibility lies with the owner. Risk Assessments must be regularly reviewed and it is good practice for this to be done annually, with suitable written records being maintained.

Additionally, the Regulations place responsibility on the owner of a fishing vessel to ensure the health and safety of those on-board. The Regulations realise that an owner may not always be on-board their vessel and in this case, responsibility also rests with the skipper or person in charge of the vessel. The owner must however ensure that the skipper is aware of their duties under the Regulations and have the means available to comply with them.

It is recommended that a clear written health and safety policy is formulated and adhered to in order to ensure that the skipper is clear on what is expected. Vessels which are over 24m in length or which spend more than 3 days at sea also require to have on-board safety procedures preventing occupational accidents.

Mackinnons can advise on the detailed requirements of the Regulations and can provide assistance in formulating appropriate risk assessments and training structures.  For more information, please contact Martin Sinclair or Graham Jones or call 01224 632464.

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