What’s stopping you from protecting yourself and your mates? Identifying barriers to the adoption of safe work practises in the small-scale wild catch commercial fishing industry
KAL Analysis Pty Ltd
Kate J. Brooks
High rates of work related injury and illness exist within Australia's commercial fishing industry, compared to other primary industries. A large proportion of current WHS approaches appear to be either underutilised or ineffective in reducing work related injury and illness frequency rates. The wild catch sector has identified a need to explore how to affect cultural shifts that increase the adoption of behaviours that create safe work environments and improve outcomes for the industry. Opportunities exist to learn from fisheries that are in the process of, or have adopted improved and positive WHS attitudes and behaviours, and to identify how they may be successfully shared with other fisheries. Fishing industry representatives identify the desirability of simultaneously generating positive WHS outcomes while undertaking research. It is clearly recognised that the industry is averse to strengthening regulatory and compliance requirements, but seek the identification of behaviours and psychological factors that underpin established, or potential improvements in safety culture and behaviours, with a view to improving WHS outcomes. Given sensitivities to WHS regulatory recriminations, it is also a clear requirement and undertaking of this research to respect the anonymity of research participants in the data, and to protect them from any direct negative regulatory actions as a result of their participation in the research. A need has also been identified to develop a set of principles, that may be promulgated nationally and utilised by industry to improve WHS outcomes, with the benefit of potentially minimising regulatory impositions. It is also acknowledged that opportunities exit to improve WHS outcomes in the aquaculture and retail sectors. While the wild catch is the focus of this project, it will seek to identify any knowledge that may also by applicable to and utilised by these other sectors.
1. To generate knowledge to foster a stronger safety culture in the wild catch commercial fishing industry, and identify relevant recommendations also applicable to the aquaculture and retail sectors.
2. Identify the barriers (environmental, behavioural, psychological, regulatory, and market based) to adoption and implementation of safe work practises.
3. Identify the specific factors contributing to improvements in industry safety culture.
Thanks to the FRDC, Dr Kate Brooks and a small team of researchers and industry people are working to identify exactly what factors are stopping the commercial fishing industry from adopting safe work practices and looking out for themselves and others while on the job.
The results of the research are intended to provide greater insight for fishers, their industry
associations and safety authorities like AMSA, to help both fishers and industry associations to
raise safety standards through changes in attitudes, behaviour and culture in the sector.
Dr Brooks said ‘In the past, attempts to improve WHS have focussed on training — more,
better, sooner and immediately after an incident’.
‘But rather than focus on training, we want to work with fishers to understand what “flicks the
switch” to be concerned enough to look out for themselves, their mates and other workers
She said that this would start with conversations about what made them care about getting
home in one piece every day.
‘Essentially, we will be looking for the stories that explain how and why fishers value their safety,
and use this understanding as the basis for developing alternative approaches to fostering a
positive WHS culture in the sector.’
To take part in the survey, share a story (confidentiality is guaranteed) or to receive updates on the progress of the project, email Kate Brooks at email@example.com
Dr Kate Brooks, Alex Thomas and/or Woody (OceanWatch) will be visiting your area - Newcastle, Sydney, the Clarence River – McLean, Iluka, and Yamba, and Cos Harbour - between May 29th and June 8th.
They are seeking your valuable knowledge as a NSW -fisherman to explore alternatives (other than regulation) to help support Australian Fishermen stay safe at work.
The survey is looking at what things are impacting your safety on the job, including culture, industry management, training and equipment knowledge.
This project is NOT about creating more red tape
Please keep an eye out for Kate, Alex and/or Woody at the wharf, beach or at your Co-op and take 20 minutes of your time to complete the survey.
Confidentiality is guaranteed.
If you're not available on the day, and you haven’t done it already, the survey will also be available at your co-op.
Or you can complete the survey on your mobile phone.
Just click on the link on the PFA website under “The Latest”.
Fishermen who fully complete the survey will go into a fortnightly draw to win a PFD (life jacket), courtesy of FRDC.
This important work is funded by the Fisheries Research and Development Corporation.
As a result of the ongoing high levels of accidents and incidents in the fishing industry, an FRDC funded survey was released in April 2018. It was both an online and face to face survey to explore the safety culture of the fishing industry across Australia. The following summarises the initial findings from the survey analysis, which will be discussed with fishers in the case study locations, face to face, in meetings in October and November 2018.
This report is on the survey component of the overall project report for 2017-046 which includes the background for the project in addition to a full literature review. This component provides the results of the survey and from this provides initial propositions as to the questions posed in the objectives of the project, being to generate knowledge about the industry’s safety culture, understand the barriers to the adoption of safe(r) work practices and identify specific factors that would contribute to improvements in safety culture.Further and most importantly for the next phase of the project, the survey was used to identify key questions to be explored with fishers in the focus groups in case study regions to further ‘unpack’ identified safety and culture issues, and to explore potential factors that may improve safety culture across the industry.
The project was developed to explore the barriers to improving the culture of safety in the wild catch fishing industry. It undertook a three-stage process of a literature review, survey of the Safety climate to understand the status of the safety climate in the industry and identify its strengths and weaknesses. The third stage was a .series of focus groups undertaken in the two case study locations in NSW and Western Australia.It found that there is a disconnect between the perceived safety of the industry by fishers and that of the regulator; this is largely due to a lack of cohesive or context relevant collaboration between the industry and the regulator at the sectoral level to ensure industry members understand the relevance and benefit of required actions to their operations. It makes a number of recommendations as to how, aside from ensuring that suitable sanctions are available to recalcitrant offenders, the industry, AMSA and other government agencies interacting with fishers can collaborate to improve the safety culture and outcomes of the industry.
This brochure provides a brief summary of the outcomes of the FRDC project 2017-046 'What’s stopping you from keeping you & your mates safe?' Barriers to the adoption of work, health and safety in the fishing industry. This project arose from growing concern over increasing numbers of fishers losing their lives at sea, in spite of improved work, health and safety (WHS) equipment, regulation and other measures.