Fishing Body Urges Vessels To Fit Carbon Monoxide Detector

26th June 2014 in Safety

The National Federation of Fishermen’s Organisations Strongly Supports Measures to Address Hidden Threat

The national body representing the fishing industry is urging all vessels to fit potentially lifesaving carbon monoxide detectors following the tragic death of two fishermen in Whitby, who died after accidentally inhaling the poisonous gas.

The National Federation of Fishermen’s Organisations (NFFO), strongly supports initiatives to highlight the dangers of carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning and this latest incident has lead the body to strongly supports additional measures to address this hidden threat. The NFFO has been working closely with the Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) to follow recommendations from the Marine Accident Investigation Branch (MAIB) and ensure similar incidents are prevented in future.

“We are not normally in the business of adding to the regulatory burden on fishermen”, said Barrie Deas, chief executive of the NFFO, “but the minimal cost involved in fitting an alarm and the catastrophic consequences of CO poisoning has persuaded us that an obligation to fit a detector should be included in the new code of practice.”

Mark Arries, 26, and Edward Ide, 21, from Northumberland, were found dead on the Eshcol, moored in Whitby harbour in January. The MAIB report into the incident, released this month, confirmed the cause of death was CO poisoning and indicated this could have been avoided if they’d had an alarm fitted in the boat.

Under the Health and Safety at Work Regulations, it is a requirement for risks to be identified and suitable measures taken to reduce the chance of harm. Therefore, fitting an alarm is already considered a requirement under this regulation. However, the requirement is non-specific. The NFFO says having the requirement in the new code will close loopholes and ensure alarms are installed pre-accident where they can save lives.

The NFFO’s Safety and Training Officer, Robert Greenwood, said: “This is a tragic incident, which unfortunately isn’t as rare as we’d hope it to be. But, one simple change could have avoided it: the installation of a carbon monoxide alarm.“The NFFO fully supports the inclusion of a requirement for fitting carbon monoxide detectors in the new codes of practice and we expect it will save lives, instead of the current situation where individuals are punished for ignorance or negligence when it’s already too late.”

In the MAIB report into the incident, it highlighted six other cases since 2000 where seven people lost their lives due to CO poisoning, the majority of whom were fishermen. It also stated it receives a number of near misses each year.

Greenwood continued: “With fishing already the most dangerous profession in the UK, there is no excuse for not minimising just one of the risks in such a cheap and simple way.”

On top of supporting changes to the codes of practice, Greenwood has been updating the Fishing Vessel Safety Folders, which the industry body Seafish uses in its fishermen’s training courses, to ensure fishermen are alert to the danger of CO fumes. Fishermen wanting to review the updated advice or to start a fishing vessel safety folder are encouraged to visit www.safetyfolder.co.uk.