Aquaculture for all

Aquaculture Safety Planning


A safe workplace is created when everyone takes a role in managing health and safety issues, says a new Aquaculture Safety Code of Practice, published by the Workers Compensation Board of Prince Edward Island. A good safety management program can help avoid incidents that are costly, time consuming and stressful for everyone involved.

Developing a Health and Safety Plan

A health and safety plan should be developed to ensure that every reasonable step was taken to prevent an incident from occurring. Health and safety plans can be used to prove due diligence in legal matters.

Due diligence means anyone with responsibilities for health and safety takes all reasonable steps to prevent incidents or injuries from occurring.

A good health and safety plan should include:

  1. A method of identifying hazards
  2. Safe work procedures
  3. A program for training workers in safe work procedures
  4. A method of monitoring workers for safe work procedures
  5. A progressive disciplinary policy to ensure compliance with safety policies
  6. Documentation of the steps of the health and safety plan as proof of due diligence

When developing a health and safety plan, one place to begin is to assess the safety issues of the workplace. Basic ways to assess safety are by:

  1. Conducting informal inspections of the various work areas and tasks
  2. Discussing safety concerns with workers and others who may frequent the workplace
  3. Consulting information on safe industry standards

Identify Hazards and the Associated Risks

Job tasks which involve hazards that could cause physical harm need to be examined. The following information will assist in identifying the hazards and putting procedures in place to deal with the associated risks on an aquaculture operation.

A hazard is any situation, activity, procedure, piece of equipment/machinery or fish that may cause harm or injury to a person.

Common hazards that mussel, oyster and finfish growers face in the routine operation of their leases and farms are covered in the Prince Edward Island Aquaculture Occupational Health and Safety Code of Practice. These include:

  • The work environment (inclement weather, heat, cold, sun)
  • Machinery and equipment (hydraulics, boat stability)
  • Navigation
  • Diving
  • Fish handling (needle-stick injuries, cuts)
  • Electricity
  • Workplace layout (ladders, decks)
  • Combustible materials (gas, diesel)
  • Working alone

The following steps are a practical and effective way of controlling hazards:

Step 1: Identify the Hazard

All tasks, equipment and substances should be examined. When listing hazards use:

  • Information from past incidents and workplace injuries
  • Information from your families, workers, neighbours
  • Product literature and information from suppliers
  • Best industry practices
  • Sight, smell, touch and hearing senses
  • Close examination of areas or activities where children or visitors may be present

Employers need to obtain and read the manuals and safety sheets that are provided by equipment, machinery, and chemical manufacturers. Employers should also develop and implement communication and emergency plans to allow for a timely response in the event of an incident.

Step 2: Assess the Risk

Risk is the chance that an existing hazard may actually cause harm or injury.

Every business has an element of risk – the aquaculture business is no different. Whether the operation cultures mussels or oysters or grows finfish, the business will have potential hazards that could impact the health and safety of all workers. Employers need to make sure that workers can enjoy a safe workplace by adhering to health and safety regulations, providing appropriate and adequate supervision and ensuring that all workers have the necessary training and equipment to do their jobs safely.

If a hazard has been identified, assess the risk by examining;

  • The likelihood of the hazard resulting in injury to the crew or other persons - is it likely or unlikely to occur?
  • The likelihood of the hazard resulting in damage to the boat or equipment, and
  • The severity of the incident - could it cause death, serious injury, or minor injury?

To assess the risk of a hazard hurting someone, ask questions like:

  • How many people come in contact with the hazard?
  • How often?
  • How seriously could someone be harmed?
  • How quickly could a dangerous situation come up if something goes wrong?

This will help you to decide which hazards should be taken care of immediately. If the hazard is likely to result in damage to the boat, equipment and/or persons, then it must be corrected immediately. Also, this information can be used to help decide what to inspect, and how often.

Risk also depends on factors such as the physical and mental abilities of the individual (e.g. young operator), the weather and terrain, the knowledge and skills of those performing the work and how the equipment is used.

Step 3: Eliminate or Control the Hazard

There are several ways to control a hazard. Pick the way(s) that is reasonable and practical for the circumstances.

  1. Eliminate hazards posed by equipment, animals, and the environment if at all
    possible. For example, get rid of a faulty machine.
  2. Substitute something safer by using a different machine, material or work
    practice that poses less risk to perform the same task. For example, use a safer
    chemical instead of a more dangerous chemical.
  3. Use engineering/design controls when it’s not possible to eliminate hazards.
    Engineered controls include machinery guards and PTO shields. Design controls,
    such as locked fences, isolate the worker from the hazard.
  4. Protect workers if other controls are inadequate. Protect workers through
    training, supervision, and personal protective equipment (PPE). For example,
    supervise new workers until they are competent to deal with hazardous situations.
    Use and provide proper clothes and respirator protection for handling dangerous
    chemicals or biohazards.
The most desirable step in making a workplace safe is to eliminate the hazard.

Further Reading

- You can view the full report by clicking here.

November 2008

Filed as: Health
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