A pilot project conducted in the western rock lobster industry, to create a software audit tool for assessing occupational health and safety compliance with industry best practice on board a commercial fishing vessel

Project Number:



Western Australian Fishing Industry Council Inc (WAFIC)

Principal Investigator:

Tanya L. Adams

Project Status:


FRDC Expenditure:





This project relates to the R&D program : Industry Development under Challenge 4 – Improve the operating efficiency of businesses which includes occupational health and safety. This project in combination with the two existing FRDC projects seeks to increase the knowledge of occupational health and safety through the assessment process. The assessment with this tool will allow industry to identify areas where the level of compliance is below expectations set by industry and therefore address these deficiencies. It also allows for the recognition of the area that OH&S is being done well. In order to demonstrate to the Regulatory bodies and the Industry body – WAFIC that the industry itself is utilizing the Code there needs to be some form of assessment on each individual fisherman to ascertain the level of compliance with the Code. There also needs to be some form of assessment of what are the main OS&H issues that still remain a high risk in order for the industry to address those problem areas. It has been determined that this project needs to be focused on one industry sector as it is a pilot for the future development of OS&H. Therefore to ensure the variables are minimise the Western Rock Lobster Industry will be the focus for the initial pilot project. HOWEVER IT IS FULLY INTENDED TO APPLY THE ASSESSMENT TOOL AS THE FOLLOW UP MECHANISM FOR THE NATIONAL OSH CODES PROJECT.THERE ARE KEY COMPONENTS TO ALL OSH PROGRAMS ACROSS AUSTRALIA. THESE ARE TO HAVE A PRACTICAL SET OF GUDILINES THAT INCORPORATE THE LEGAL REQUIRMENTS IN EACH STATE AND PUT THEN IN SEAFOOD TERMS. THESE ARE TO BE DEVELOPED THROUGH INDUSTRY ( THIS IS THE NATIONAL CODE).TO MAKE INDUSTRY AWARE AND ACHIEVE A CULTURAL CHANGE FROM WITHIN THE INDUSTRY AND TO PROMOTE TO GOVERNMENT THE REASONS WHY THE NATIONAL CODES PROJECT EXISTS . TO INSTALL A SYSTEM OF EVALUATION TO BE ABLE TO DEMONSTRATE THAT THE SELF REGUALTION APPROACH WORKS. The software tool developed for this pilot will also be added on the existing national Extension Occupational Health and Safety project as method of assessing those states performance after the introduction of their respective OS&H Codes. SEE ATTACHMENT 1 FOR INFORMATION ON BENEFITS OF USING THE TECHNOLOGY


1. Design and test an assessment tool to evaluate the uptake of the WAFIC Occupational Health and Safety Code in the rock lobster sector in WA

2. Demonstrate the benefits of such a tool to the WA Commercial fishing Industry for wider application througout the state and Australia.

3. Demonstrate to other states THROUGH STATE PEAK BODIES ,ASIC, SSA, NAC the benefits of the tool as part of the National OS&H Extension project

A pilot project conducted in the western rock lobster industry, to create a software audit tool for assessing occupational health and safety compliance with industry best practice on board a commercial fishing vessel

Final Report
Author(s):Tanya Adams
Date Published:March 2010

The Western Australian Fishing Industry Council has had a comprehensive health and safety code for use in the wild catch fishing industry in place since 1992. The OSH Code (hereafter referred to as the Code) was developed as a result of an increasing fatality and serious incident rate within the industry and pressure from both government agencies with jurisdiction over the fishing industry (Worksafe WA and Marine Safety WA) for WAFIC to act over the r incident rate.

The Code was issued as a formal printed document in 1997 and while the education and awareness process continues to this day, questions have been raised by WAFIC, Industry and Government agencies as to the Code’s effectiveness and uptake by industry.

This project involved the Principal Investigator (hereafter referred to as the PI) developing the audit tool (question set) and conducting the trial audits and the Co-Investigator (AXON IT) accessing the software, developing the web based system and uploading all necessary documentation. 

The question set reflected the content and structure of the Code: Part 1 Responsibilities; Part 2 – General guidelines; and Part 3 – Pot and Trap.

The question set was refined over eight versions based upon feedback from trial audits. 

SafetyNet is the name assigned to the web site where all the data is collated and reports produced.

Twenty two sample audits were conducted randomly within the Western Rock Lobster sector and the data entered into the software. The audits and subsequent data collected was not analyzed other than collection of answers for each question. A statistical analysis was not within the scope of the pilot project.

The reports that can be generated by the data base are simple pie charts or bar graphs. They are easy to access and interpret from SafetyNet. Sample reports on the data from the twenty two audits were used to design and test the report generator.

While the audit tool has been piloted within the Western Rock Lobster industry, the audit tool can be adapted to any sector across Australia by designing the question set and uploading to the web. It has been designed so that it can be adapted to enable each state to audit their industry where and when required to assess the uptake of each state’s OSH Code.

The use of Microsoft word for the audit tool also provides flexibility to adapt the question set and reports for other types of audits e.g. environmental and quality audits.

Keywords: Rock lobster, Worksafe, Marine Safety, audit, Microsoft word, software, SafetyNet.