We have been providing a fair degree of support to the industry and clients getting to grips with the implementation of the ILO Regulations – notably work agreements, working time regulations and repatriation. Our series of articles can be read here.

The MCA has recently announced further proposed changes for the fishing sector and published a consultation document in relation to proposed changes to personal protective equipment requirements. The consultation closes on 19 July 2019.

The consultation document will make changes to the existing Merchant Shipping and Fishing Vessels (Personal Protective Equipment) Regulations 1999. The general rule is that Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) shall be used when risks cannot be avoided or reduced to an acceptable level by other means or systems of work. The existing regulations place responsibility upon employers with duties owed to employees.

The changes with these proposed new regulations will mean that the onus will extend obligations from the narrow “employer” owing duties to “employed fishermen” to also include obligations on “owners and fishermen” and the proposed changes will extend these duties to self-employed share fishermen and other workers.

Self-employed fishermen can still use their own PPE but the employer/owner/fisherman will have a duty to ensure (so far as practicable) that PPE is suitable, used as instructed and that it is put on and worn correctly. There are additional provisions with regard to adequate and proper training being provided and an obligation on seafarer and other workers to wear and use the PPE which has been issued to them and to comply with any instruction provided. This ties in with new ILO Regs which make it an offence for a fisherman to fail to obey the lawful order of the skipper.

Given the changes which are already being faced by the industry in adapting to the ILO188 obligations we expect there may well be some comment and, in consultation with the MCA, scope for revisals or further guidance. For example, further guidance may be needed upon the checking of equipment, training and so forth.