The following op-ed was written by Labi Kousoulis is Minister of Labour and Advanced Education and Stuart MacLean, CEO of WCB Nova Scotia.
SOUTHWESTERN, N.S. – Fishing is woven into the fabric of Nova Scotia. For as long as people have lived near our shores, many have based their livelihood on the fish and seafood in these waters.
This holds true today.
Thousands of people make their living fishing in Nova Scotia. It is those who take to the water regularly who know the risk all too well.
Sadly, seven Nova Scotians have lost their lives in fishing-related workplace tragedies this year.
the past few years, government and WCB Nova Scotia has worked with industry to lessen the risks. Fishing is a safer profession today than it was a generation ago. Technology has helped in many ways – from better weather forecasting, to improved safety equipment designed for working conditions.
However, fishing remains a dangerous and demanding job. The ocean is powerful and unpredictable. The equipment is heavy and dangerous. And it takes strength and stamina to do the job on a boat that heaves and rocks.
It is not, as they say, for the faint of heart.
The industry has many safety champions – and they work tirelessly to improve working conditions for the men and women who earn their living at sea. We want to recognize those who have taken positive steps to improve their own safety and the safety of those aboard their boats.
On Oct. 1, the WCB and Nova Scotia Department of Labour and Advanced Education launched an awareness campaign reminding Nova Scotians of the importance of working safely.
In November, occupational health and safety officers have increased their presence at wharves on the South Shore and the Annapolis Valley to continue to promote safety, and to take action when operators are not in compliance.
We will also continue to promote safety requirements for training and personal protective equipment.
The Fisheries Safety Association of Nova Scotia also provides safety resources and training throughout the province with more scheduled for this fall. The safety association, along with the Nova Scotia Fisheries Sector Council, and numerous fishermen, family members, and public sector representatives continue to meet regularly and work together to implement the recommendations outlined in Fishing Safety Now, the fishing safety plan by and for the industry that was launched in 2015.
Safety must always be a priority. Culture change requires continued effort, increased awareness, and safety programs that make the safe choice an easy one to make – every time.
We need all Nova Scotians to play a role in making workplaces safer.
Everyone deserves to come home safe at the end of the day.
Most importantly, encourage the fishermen in your life to wear their PFD, no matter what.
For more information about fishing safety, including resources and training, visit fisheriessafety.ca.