In December 2014, the Health and Safety Authority (HSA) published a new guidance document - "Managing Health and Safety in Fishing" (the "Guidance") – to improve standards of safety and health in the commercial sea / marine fishing sector. The Guidance was produced with the assistance of Bord Iascaigh Mhara to complement the "Code of Practice for the Design, Construction, Equipment and Operation of Small Fishing Vessels of Less Than 15m Length Overall" published by the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport (revision published in January 2014).

The Guidance is principally aimed at small fishing boats (i.e. vessels less than 15 metres including single handed operations on small open and decked boats) which, according to the Guidance, accounts for approximately 90% of all registered Irish fishing vessels.

The Guidance includes useful analysis of the main causes of fatalities and non-fatal injuries as well as common hazards faced by employers / employees in the sector (biological, chemical, physical and health hazards). There are also sections addressing the safety statement in context, emergency plans and first aid, fire prevention, information, instruction, training and supervision, vessel maintenance, vulnerable workers, personal protective equipment, lone working, investigation and reporting.

The Guidance is available to download from the HSA website here.

This article contains a general summary of developments and is not a complete or definitive statement of the law. Specific legal advice should be obtained where appropriate.