Fishing is one of the most dangerous professions. Working on a platform which is never still, makes what is already a high risk occupation even more unsafe. Bad weather and hostile sea conditions increase the risk of accidents. Being at sea means that in many cases the consequence of an accident is more severe than if it occurred on shore.
The Irish Sea fishing sector has a workforce of approximately 5,000 people and has a disproportionately high fatality and accident rate. Due to the nature of the sector, multiple fatality incidents have occurred when a vessel is lost at sea. On average there are about four or five fatal accidents annually in the sector.This gives a very high rate of fatal accidents.
Taking the last five years, the average fatality rates (per 100,000 employed) for:
- The General Working Population was 2.5.
- Construction was 7.1.
- Agriculture was 21.5.
- Fishing was 92.
This makes fishing approximately 4 times more dangerous than agriculture, 13 times more dangerous than construction and 36 times more dangerous than general employment. When calculated over a ten year period, the average fishing fatality rate works out at 40 times more hazardous than general working. Some years, if taken in isolation, have particularly high numbers lost at sea.
Putting practical measures in place to prevent accidents and ill health is the key to improving the safety and health record in fishing.