Derek Cardno said: “The uptake of free PFDs from fishermen has been tremendously encouraging and we’ve also had much useful feedback. However, there are many vessels still to apply and I would urge any skippers who have not yet done so to get in contact with me so that the arrangements can be put in place to supply their boat with free PFDs for all the crew. If a skipper is unsure about the benefits offered by these PFDs, then I would also be delighted if they contacted me so that I can provide an overview of the devices and how to apply.”
The benefits of always wearing a PFD were highlighted recently by Isle of Coll fisherman Dougie Brown who fell overboard from his vessel while trying to clear a snagged rope. Luckily he had the foresight to wear a PFD, which helped save his life. There have been countless other similar instances around the UK, where other home nations have their own PFD projects.
Meanwhile, refresher training for the four mandatory safety courses is still being funded until the end of September 2014. This is available for fishermen who haven’t completed these courses in the last three years. A completely new course on offer is ‘Safety Awareness’ which seeks to give fishermen skills on completing a risk assessment.
Mr Cardno said: “Our policy at the SFF is to ensure there is a current and up-to-date risk assessment completed by the crew of all vessels. This is probably the most effective measure any skipper can take in reducing deaths and accidents. It really is a no-brainer.”
The SFF offer a free Risk Assessment service in the form of the ‘Onboard Support Scheme’, which is designed to produce a safety management system for fishing vessels. It uses a proven Danish designed online safety system which is very straightforward to adopt. As well as providing an opportunity to develop a risk assessment, the management system allows skippers to record many different aspects of running their vessels including the expiry date of life saving appliances, survey dates, lifting equipment records and crew certificate details.
In a further development, the SFF with help and funding from Seafish has managed to attract fishermen into other useful voluntary training courses. For example, fishermen have shown a real appetite to learn more engine room skills through the MCA 30 hour diesel course and on navigation training through the ECDIS course.