‘It’s a small step to take, but it’s one that could mean so much to a fisherman and his family,’ says NFFO safety officer Robert Greenwood, who is also the man behind the Safety Folder, a free online service that provides a platform for monitoring and checking a vessel’s safety.
‘All it costs is a little time, so make the first of January 2018 the day you start managing your safety on board through the Safety Folder,’ he said.
The Safety Folder is a completely free service to the fishing industry, aimed solely at improving safety on board, and with some major changes about to take place in safety regulations in the coming year, this is something that will make complying with and understanding the new requirements easier.
‘If you’re using the Safety Folder for the first time and you’re not a natural when it comes to computers, then ask a friend or a family member to give you a hand to get started,’ he said.
‘Remember that this is something that could make a big difference to you, your crew and your family. If you’re one of the Safety Folder’s long-time users, bear in mind that the previous paper versions may no longer comply with the new requirements and it’s best to make the move online to keep up with the rapid changes about to take place.’
With major reviews of safety issues taking place next year, he commented that this will bring some of the biggest changes to safety in fishing for a generation.
‘There’s no getting away from the fact that every fisherman and vessel owner is going to have to make at least some changes,’ he said.
‘The UK’s fishing safety experts recognise that change only happens when the industry changes its ways of working, and the Safety Folder has been designed as a tool to provide the support the industry needs to make the changes needed.’
Robert Greenwood said that 2017 achieved a significant milestone, a 12 month period with no fatalities in the UK fishing industry.
‘Although it was unfortunately a short-lived achievement, it was still a great achievement. Anyone who knows the industry from the inside is aware of the anguish and suffering that besets families, friends and whole communities when these tragedies occur. If just one person was saved by using the Safety Folder website it would be worthwhile.’
Success in improving safety is mainly due to the frequently unrecognised efforts of individual fishermen, who often make what they see as insignificant changes, never realising the devastating outcome that failing to make that small improvement could have. Everyday things, replacing a wire or a shackle, can be a life-and-death choice, and every day at sea brings hundreds of these choices.
‘So do you put your faith in luck, chance and intuition – or do you want to rely instead on preparation and planning? Don’t leave it to chance – SafetyFolder.co.uk is there to support every fisherman in making the right safety choices,’ he said.