SAFETY IN THE NORWEGIAN FISHING FLEET - ANALYSIS AND MEASURES FOR IMPROVEMENT
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- Institutt for marin teknikk 
The work of this thesis attempted to undertake the task of establishing knowledge of the level of safety within the Norwegian fishing fleet, with the objective to both understand previous occurrences and exploit succinct accident learning for the creation of future orientated preventative measures. Through the analysis of accident statistics and amalgamated fatality and injury records, it has been possible to determine both the relative numbers of accidents occurring per year and to develop incident rates per 10,000 man-years over extended periods within the fleet. Broad trends in accident occurrence within individual fleet groups, fishing methodologies, locations onboard, accident types and modes have been identified. Both the occurrences of fatalities and injuries have fallen significantly in the fleet within the last decade and across all fleet groups. Single fatality events are more common than multiple fatality events, such as vessel disasters, and the small coastal fleet consistently suffers higher fatality rates than the larger fleets. This trend is reversed in relation to injuries, although a high degree of under-reporting is thought to occur in the smallest fleet. Unsurprisingly, work activities on deck, particularly those in relation to the shooting and hauling of the gear are the most unsafe, contributing to both fatalities and injuries. The highest fatality mode is drowning, while the highest injury mode is represented by entanglements or crush injuries, blows by objects and falls. While, there exists many positive indicators within the analysis of accident records, the depth of the analysis was limited to broad descriptive statistics due to the identification of many and varied issues related to the attributes of data records maintained in the national accident reporting system. The data was incapable of supporting any greater level of detailed analysis, due to a distinct lack of specific detail in the records, ubiquitous instances of missing and incomplete data, and limited fields of data recovery. These quality and quantity issues of accident records are hence flagged as a significant problem, from the stance of developing accident understanding and learning, but further as a limiting factor in determination of future safety initiatives for the fleet. Demonstrating an overall lack of specific knowledge regarding the circumstances under which the accidents occurred, their preconditions, initiations or sequences. In that, high-risk categories could be statistically identified but due to the manner of recording occurrences for posterity it proved impossible to determine why these higher risks existed, or could be prevented or controlled going forward based on accident records alone. It was determined crucial that the specific deficiencies found in accident reporting be identified in detail in order to influence, encourage and promote the necessity for change in the way accidents are recorded in the future. Through the identification of the breadth of salient recording deficiencies, it was possible to advocate for expanded analysis potential and learning capabilities in securing safer work environments for the future. The analysis of accident records, as they currently stand facilitate only the determination of broad in-specific improvement measures for increasing safety within the fishing fleet. The determination of further improvement measures was therefore approached from an alternate perspective. After a long derogation, the Norwegian fleet was required to implement Safety Management onboard under the Internal Control Regulation (1997). This provided the opportunity to apply Systems Engineering (SE) thinking to identify the requirements for implementing holistic safety management systems (SMS) on fishing vessels. Systems engineering enables the design of a systematic approach to safety management by identifying, defining and developing adequate controls for all-legislative health and safety requirements related to fishing vessel. What is proposed is a simplistic and concise format by which safety can be managed as a system onboard a fishing vessel. The standardized format relates the common requirements requiring appropriate control and compliance onboard. It is designed with the specific intent of having one standard system but with a number of system standards based on risk profile and inherent safety management capabilities, which a size range of vessels entails. The proposed safety management system promotes a combination of documentation and communication arrangements, as simplicity, clarity and conciseness are virtues in keeping the system manageable for smaller fishing vessels in particular. Though documentation is required to prove compliance, these documents need not be excessive if they are consistent with the ideology of managing safety aspects onboard. Communication is actively encouraged, as a tool for managing safety onboard and for increasing collaboration, sharing of safety information and responsibilities. Representing a simple way of turning the SMS into an active and inclusive part of the organization, based on a shared perception of the hazards and risks faced by the crew, and the importance placed on safety by the operator. The final stage in any SMS is the process of reviewing the content and function of the system, through a critical appraisal of all elements of the SMS; inclusive of the actions, instructions, documentation and communication arrangements to ensure their consistency with safety management practice onboard. Any system can be improved upon; hence, each review should determine new initiatives to ensure the continued effectiveness and suitability of the SMS in managing safety, in synergy with increasing human knowledge of the system elements onboard. In conclusion, the PhD work was successful in meeting its objectives and identifying the current decreasing trends in relation to accident occurrences in the fleet. The thesis identifies high-risk groups and broad stroke improvement measures from statistical analysis. Additionally, implementation of safety management systems in fisheries represents an important improvement measure, but its successful dissemination is dependent on designing with the characteristics and competencies of the industry in mind. It should be installed as an actively managed and communicated system, leading to a shared perception of the value of safety, rather than a dead paper system of no functional value. Finally, the current system of accident reporting has been illuminated as a source of lost accident learning and an area demanding future improvement measures. Although it exists outside of the practice of fishing, an improved data collection system has the greatest potential to provide preventative and protective measures to secure safer fisheries in the future, if it is properly restructure for maximal knowledge extraction. The findings of this study are of interest to those working in Health and Safety in general but most specifically those involved in such research in the fishing industry. Many researchers have identified with necessity that progress in securing the safety of fisheries is maintained over the long term and that new preventative measures be determined to secure further reductions. It is therefore, important to illustrate the importance and efficacy of those interventions that have succeeded in reducing Norwegian accident incident rates in fisheries. Providing a measure of success, and outlining specific areas relevant in securing further reductions in accident numbers in this or any fleet. Further, it is hoped that this thesis will have a positive influence in the manner and detail by which future fisheries accidents are recorded for posterity. Encouraging the international community, government bodies and researchers to develop a future orientated standardized reporting format from which further accident learning and preventative strategies might arise. Finally, it is hoped that this research provides to fishers some knowledge and tools by which they can further secure their safety at sea, as safety need not be complex or draconian, what is essential is that it is communicative, inclusive and involving.