The agriculture, forestry and fishing industry has the highest fatality rate of any industry sector in Australia. The number of workplace injuries is also high, especially as it employs a relatively small number of workers.
The tragic death of a commercial estuary fisherman at Coila Lake, north of Narooma in June 2013 highlighted some of the serious risks of estuary fishing. This prompted the New South Wales (NSW) Government to hold a series of information sessions for commercial estuary fishermen as part of their efforts to improve safety in this industry.
WorkCover NSW held free sessions for the North and South coast commercial estuary industry during December 2013 and January 2014. These aimed to:
- improve awareness of the unique risks and challenges associated with commercial estuary fishing, and
- promote the assistance available from government agencies to help address these risks.
WorkCover NSW, Fisheries NSW, Roads and Maritime Services (RMS), and industry representatives visited key estuary fishing areas and provided practical advice, support and assistance to business owners and workers.
WorkCover NSW offered a tailored $500 rebate to small business owners running commercial estuarine fishing operations who attended the workshop. This was to help offset the cost of purchasing and installing eligible safety equipment, such as:
- emergency position-indicating radio beacons
- marine radio transceivers
- personal flotation devices, and
- hoists or winches (hydraulic, electric or battery-operated manual handling aids).
The program received 36 applications and provided $14 879 in rebates, resulting in $17 592 in safety improvements.
WorkCover NSW and the Department of Primary Industries and RMS issued a newsletter ‘Working Safely in Commercial Estuary Fishing’ to the licensed commercial estuary fishing industry in their state. This provides practical information on how to work more safely.
While the commercial estuarine fishing rebate program is now complete for further information on how to improve your safety, and to find out about other rebate initiatives for businesses in NSW contact WorkCover NSW on 13 10 50 or visit the WorkCover NSW website.