Health & Safety

Today the Marine Accident Investigation Branch (MAIB) produced a detailed report and analysis following the tragic death of a fisherman on his vessel in port. The report sets out that, after having some alcoholic drinks whilst ashore, the skipper of the vessel suffered fatal injuries due to a fall within the vessel. The MAIB report sets out that access route layout and the effects of alcohol consumption had both contributed to the fall and severity of injuries.

There are various recommendations made by MAIB. Of particular note it is suggested that Seafish & Rockall Ltd (who both provide guidance to fishermen in relation to health and safety matters) review and update the generic drug and alcohol policy in their safety folders to reflect issues identified by the investigation. In addition, there is a suggestion of a requirement to have clear definition as to when crew are on or off duty.

The MAIB refer to other recent investigations carried out in relation to deaths where seafarers had consumed alcohol – one from 2018 and two from 2017. The MAIB also report that since 1992 alcohol has been a contributing factor in 30 of the 344 crew fatalities from UK registered fishing vessels and go on to set out that of the 42 fishing vessel fatalities that occurred in port or harbour in this period alcohol was a contributory factor in 26 (62% of them). It is also notable that the MAIB figures DO NOT include fishermen who fall from quaysides before they reach their vessel.

Given recent health and safety changes which have come about following the implementation of ILO 188 which we have reported upon (see here and here) and discussed at various events and seminars such as our November 2019 fishing law legal update it does appear likely that there will be further change to health and safety guidance for the UK fishing sector. We will keep you updated on this and if you would like to discuss any of the points that arise or would like support with any other fishing law issues do not hesitate to get in touch with me or your usual Brodies contact.

Malcolm Mackay

Partner at Brodies LLP
Malcolm is a partner in the Health and Safety Team. He advises clients on Health and Safety and Regulatory matters in the energy sector of the North Sea, North East Atlantic and abroad. Malcolm also works on other contractual and commercial matters such as technical disputes or indemnity (Hold Harmless) contracts arising in the shipping and transport sector.
Malcolm Mackay