HARBOUR GRACE, N.L. (Canadian OH&S News)
A worker was killed aboard a fishing vessel off the coast of Newfoundland, while the ship was on its way back to port after spending more than two weeks at sea.
On February 10, factory foreman Aaron Cull, a 25-year-old from St Anthony, near the northern peak of the island, was inspecting a cleaning job done by another crew member aboard the Katsheshuk II shrimp boat when, at about 8 pm, he was struck by a hydraulically-operated steel door and killed immediately.
The RCMP reports the 60-metre long boat was about 90 kilometres from Twillingate, Newfoundland, a small island off the northern coast.
“It wasn’t a real heavy door,” says Corporal Kent Coish of the Harbour Grace detachment of the Trinity Conception RCMP, adding that the door was about two feet by two feet in size and opened upwards.
The half-inch thick, galvanized steel door separated the holding tank from the processing factory, adds RCMP Constable John Hedges of the Trinity Conception RCMP’s general investigation unit. When the hydraulic arms opened the door, operating at 1,050 pounds per square inch of pressure, the shrimp would fall onto a belt that would carry them through the ship’s processing factory, he explains.
The boat, owned by Paradise, Newfoundland-based Katsheshuk Fisheries Ltd, had been at sea since January 26 with 22 crew members on board. It was on its way back to Newfoundland in relatively smooth waters involving only one to two metre swells when the accident happened, Coish says. It returned to port the day after the accident.
The boat returned to sea on February 13, Hedges says, after a number of safety concerns from the province’s occupational health and safety division were addressed.
Hugh Donnan, communications director for Service NL, says that because the investigation is ongoing, he cannot comment on what the safety concerns were, but the oh&s division is now considering if any part of the incident should lead to industry-wide changes.
“Our condolences go out to the family of our employee tonight,” Martin Sullivan, president of Katsheshuk Fisheries, said in a statement released the day of the fatality. “This incident is a tragic one. The company will co-operate fully with officials in an investigation of the accident.”
The investigation is being conducted by the RCMP, the occupational health & safety division of Service NL, Transport Canada and the provincial medical examiner’s office.
Fishing vessel accidents still too high: TSB
As part of its watchlist identifying safety issues in Canada’s transportation system that was released in March of 2010, the Transportation Safety Board of Canada (TSB) advised that the fishing industry needs to adopt and promote safe operating procedures and practices. Furthermore, the TSB says, the government must work with the fishing industry to create a regulatory framework that can support this initiative, as “the number of accidents involving loss of life on fishing vessels remains too high.”
Between 2006 and 2010, there was an annual average of 45 accidents and four fatalities involving fishing vessels in the Newfoundland and Labrador region, the TSB reports. Accidents aboard a ship were the cause of about half of all shipping fatalities in Canada during that same time period.
Katsheshuk Fisheries is a partnership between Ocean Choice and the Innu Nation, and the boat, one of seven in Ocean Choice’s fleet, was built in Norway in 1996.