OHS Canada Magazine

Nova Scotia fisherman drowns after fall into water

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November 24, 2014
By Jeff Cottrill

Health & Safety Workplace accident -- fatality

61-year-old seaman dies in workplace accident in Port Mouton

(Canadian OH&S News) — A 61-year old fisherman has died after falling into the water in an apparent accident while on the job in Port Mouton, a small coastal town about 160 kilometres from Halifax, on Nov. 13.


According to Sgt. Paul MacDougall of the local RCMP division, Const. Richard Ellens responded to a 9-1-1 call about a man who had fallen overboard from a fishing vessel. “The male subsequently died,” Sgt. MacDougall said. “We investigated under the Coroner’s Act and determined no foul play occurred in this incident.”


After investigating, the police passed the case over to the occupational health and safety division of Nova Scotia’s Department of Labour and Advanced Education. “The RCMP investigation is concluded,” said Sgt. MacDougall.
The oh&s authorities determined that the man, who has been identified only as Mr. Roy, had been preparing his docked fishing boat for the beginning of fishing season at the time of the accident.



“It looks as though Mr. Roy was working on a ladder and rough seas caused him to lose his grip and fall into the water,” said Chrissy Matheson, spokesperson for the Department. “It has been concluded that Mr. Roy died from drowning.”


Although the Workers’ Compensation Board of Nova Scotia reported earlier this year that the province’s workplace injury rate had hit an all-time low, the fishing sector remains an oh&s concern in the province. Out of the 34 occupational fatalities in the province in 2013, eight occurred in the fishing industry, and a professional fisher is considered 46 times more likely than a worker in any other sector is to suffer death by a traumatic injury, also known as an “acute” fatality.


“This is the third fishing fatality in the province this year,” Matheson explained. “There have been four acute workplace fatalities in Nova Scotia so far this year. Last year, there were 17.


“We will be participating in ‘man overboard’ drills and other activities to mark the start of the season, to provide support, education and information to the fishing community and remind them of the importance of safety.”


Kelly Regan, Nova Scotia’s Minister of Labour and Advanced Education, issued a press statement on Nov. 14, offering her condolences to the people who had known Roy.


“My heart goes out to this man’s family and loved ones during this extremely difficult time,” Regan said. “I want to assure them that we will try to help find answers as to why this happened and hope that, in some way, it helps to provide some comfort.”


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