IRSST - Institut de recherche Robert-Sauvé en santé et en sécurité du travail

Lobster Fishers: Preventing Falls Overboard

  •   April 11, 2016

Montréal April 11, 2016  – Today, the English version of a video about preventing falls overboard from lobster boats was made available by the Institut de recherche Robert-Sauvé en santé et en sécurité du travail (IRSST). The video, entitled Setting the Course for Safety: Preventing Falls Overboard, highlights the preventive strategies that have been found to be the most effective and easily adopted by the greatest number of fishing crews. The French version of the video was launched on February 11 at the annual meeting of the Standing Committee on Québec Fishing Vessel Safety (SCFVSQ), held in Rimouski.

Filmed on lobster boats from the Gaspé and the Magdalen Islands, the video shows fishers and deckhands at work, explaining and sharing preventive knowledge and the “tricks of the trade” they use to avoid falling overboard. The video draws on research funded by the IRSST, which enabled researchers, working with professional fishers, to describe some 40 strategies developed by people working in the fishing industry.

Despite progress in that sector, fishing remains one of the most dangerous occupations: bad weather, rolling vessels, slippery surfaces, handling heavy traps, and the constant presence of lengths of rope on the deck can cause serious, even fatal, accidents at any moment. Nonetheless, it is the first time in Québec and Canada that researchers have studied the issue of overboard falls, in addition to documenting means of prevention and determining the most promising risk reduction strategies. “Both during the study and the scripting of the video, the researchers worked closely with the fishers so that they would see themselves reflected in the results and, above all, so that they would put prevention strategies into practice to avoid falling overboard,” explains François Ouellet, knowledge transfer advisor at the IRSST.

The 25-minute long video contains tips and advice regarding various working situations, such as loading, setting, hauling up and resetting traps, the movements of the rope, the arrangement and snaring of buoys, shifting trawls in the fishing area, the type of clothing worn by fishers, and preventive strategies on deck.

The video is available at no charge at

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Jacques Millette
Manager, Public Affairs