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Public meeting: Yarmouth company to outline safety steps taken as part of court ruling in case of marine accident

As a result of a marine accident that caused serious injury to a crewmember, a public meeting is being held to discuss steps that have been taken to avoid such an incident from occurring again.

The meeting is being held Thursday, Oct. 26, at 9 a.m. at the Mariners Centre in Yarmouth.

The meeting is mandated by the Provincial Court as part of the sentence handed down to Yarmouth Sea Products Ltd. after a fisherman onboard one of its scallop draggers received a serious head injury in June 2015. The man was injured while the drag on the vessel was being lifted and a cable broke.

An investigation followed, which included the seizure of the Compass Rose II scallop dragger and the eventual laying of charges.

“We went through all of that and then we embarked on a very aggressive Occupational Health and Safety Program with the company,” says company attorney Clifford Hood, who says around a quarter-of-a-million dollars was spent to further increase safety. “The company was prosecuted on several charges. In the end it pled guilty to three charges.”

Hood says one of the charges related to not taking all reasonable steps to prevent the injury from happening. For instance, were hard hats being used?

“You can’t engage in the argument of whether hard hats would have, could have prevented the accident. It might have been just as severe, we don’t know,” Hood said.

The other two charges related to not having written Occupational Health and Safety programs in place.

As a result of pleading guilty and the agreement reached between the Crown and defence, the company was fined $10,000 and was also ordered to make a $30,000 contribution to the Fisheries Safety Association of Nova Scotia.

In addition to undertaking its own safety changes and improvements, another directive of the court was for Yarmouth Sea Products to carry out two, one-hour sessions pertaining to the incident and the steps that have since been taken. A presentation has already been made to the Coldwater Lobster Association.

On Oct. 26, the company will present a one-hour Safety and Occupational Health and Safety Act compliance presentation to the public. The presentation will review the facts and the resulting issues and actions taken to comply with the Occupational Health and Safety Act.

Factual findings, causes, court proceedings, victim impact statements and resulting corrective actions taken by Yarmouth Products will be presented and discussed.

Hood said there will also be information pertaining to other laws that apply to fisheries that fishermen should find useful.

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