According to official statistics compiled by the National Water Safety Forum in their 2018 Annual Fatal Incident Report, there were 13 incidents of accidental drowning that occurred in either a marina, harbour, dock or port in 2018. An additional 7 deaths have tragically been attributed to suicide. Those who drowned accidentally equate to approximately 5% of all water related fatalities that occurred throughout the country last year.
Despite these numbers only representing a fraction of all drownings that occurred across the UK, the Government is treating the subject of marine safety with utmost significance. In 2019, the Department for Transport announced it’s ‘Marine Safety Action Plan’ – a roadmap articulating the Department’s approach to maritime safety from now on; the plan outlines key priorities and specific actions they believe must be taken in order to boost existing marine industry safety standards. Given that 95% of UK import and export trade enters through our ports, it’s easy to see why the Government is renewing focus on marine safety.
As stated within the Marine Safety Action Plan, commercial fishing is the UK’s most hazardous industry ‘with an average of 54 fatalities per 100,000 full or part-time workers between 2012 and 2018.’ With 10,000 people employed as fishermen in the UK in 2015, this equates to a potential 32 fatalities in the stated 6 years between 2012 to 2018.
REACH AND RESCUE POLE INSTALLED ON 'EMERGENCY POINT'
In recognising the need for stringent safety measures at their own commercial pier, marina manager Kevin Baird and his team at Quay Marinas Bangor Marina have positioned a Reach and Rescue telescopic rescue pole inside a system that they’ve dubbed the ‘Emergency Point’ – an easy-access container featuring our rescue pole as the focal point amongst a range of safety equipment that is intended to enhance the safety of the fishermen who work on the busy pier.
As stated by Kevin: “fishermen do fall in” the marina and whilst water safety equipment is already in place on the pier, “a lifering is no use if you fall between the boat and the quay.” Of course, there are other factors that can hamper a lifering’s effectiveness: a casualty can be unconscious after falling in the water or variable tide means a lifering can flow away from the casualty. The telescopic rescue pole that the team at Bangor Marina have installed in the Emergency Point circumvents these factors by remaining functional in all emergency situations.
By being an ever-present at the side of the commercial pier, the pole succeeds in being – as Kevin puts it – “an extra lifesaving piece of kit that’s proving extremely useful. It will save lives.”
Needless to say, we’re extremely impressed by the safety initiative the team at Bangor Marina have implemented. Through their work with the Northern Ireland Fisherman’s Safety Forum (NIFSF), we’re excited to see the safety initiatives Kevin and his colleagues at NIFSF drum up to improve fishermen safety at marinas across Northern Ireland.
ROOM FOR REACH AND RESCUE'S WATER SAFETY EQUIPMENT IN COMMERCIAL FISHING SAFETY MEASURES
It’s through the work carried out by organisations such as Quay Marinas and the NIFSF that will aid the UK Government to meet their ambitious target of eliminating all preventable deaths in the fishing industry by 2027. Plans are to implement strategy developed in tandem with industry safety groups such as the Fishing Industry Safety Group (FISG) – but, as established innovators in the world of water rescue, there’s room for Reach and Rescue’s water safety equipment to be at the forefront of this sea change too.
Case 20 on pages 39 and 40 in the Marine Accident Investigation Branch’s (MAIB) latest MAIB Safety Digest recounts an investigation into a man overboard situation. Despite the skipper manoeuvring the vessel to 10 metres from the MOB in their effort to recover the individual, the vessel couldn’t move any closer due to the potential for the casualty to be snagged in its fishing gear. The casualty themselves couldn’t grab onto a lifering as their lifejacket was crotchless; this meant letting go of the jacket’s inflated bladder risked being submerged. In this instance, a telescopic rescue pole could have been deployed by the skipper to keep the casualty afloat until the rescue helicopter arrived.
A thorough safety audit conducted by IMCA on a Jubliee Fishing Company Ltd. fishing vessel supports our view that telescopic rescue poles should be a necessary piece of safety equipment for all commercial fishermen. The team at Jubilee Fishing Company Ltd. were advised by IMCA to add this extra piece of lifesaving equipment to their kit and that they should conduct regular safety and training exercises with it.
Above is a video supplied by Paul and his team at Jubilee Fishing Company Ltd. deploying the pole whilst practising their man overboard recovery procedure.
Often the conclusions from the Marine Accident Investigation Branch are that incidents of drowning in the marine industry could have been avoided. With organisations such as Quay Marinas and IMCA using their expertise to pre-empt more tragedies, the safety of the whole of the commercial fishing industry will be boosted.
As Kevin Baird at Bangor Marina puts it, our telescopic rescue pole serves to “enhance the safety of their fishermen” and that it “will save lives.”