Communicable Disease Briefing – COVID-19 Safe Work Practices
Fish harvesting is one of the most dangerous occupations in Newfoundland and Labrador. Fish harvesters address new challenges everyday as they prepare for the 2020 fish harvesting season. How to operate a safe, commercial fishery in the midst of a COVID-19 global pandemic is their latest and most complex challenge.
At this time, there are no specific vaccines or treatments for COVID-19. Consequently, the best way to prevent and slow down the transmission of the COVID-19 virus is to be fully informed about the disease, how it spreads, and possible control measures that will help to contain and prevent the spread.
The Newfoundland and Labrador Fish Harvesting Safety Association (NL-FHSA) has been working to gain an understanding of COVID-19 and its potential impact on the fish harvesting industry in this province. The work has been carried out in partnership with the FFAW-Unifor and the Professional Fish Harvester Certification Board (PFHCB), and in collaboration with other representatives of the NL-FHSA Board of Directors and Advisory Committee. The NL‑FHSA also reached out to fish harvesting safety associations across the country as well as the Provincial Chief Medical Officer of Health for input.
This is an unprecedented time for everyone in the fishing industry and it is challenging to develop safe work practices that can be applied to all fishing vessels given the type of vessel, vessel size and crew size. The Communicable Disease Briefing COVID-19 Safe Work Practice has been developed using the most-up-to-date public health information available on COVID-19 and is subject to change as new information on COVID-19 becomes available. It is presented as a guideline for fish harvesters to use to prevent the spread of COVID-19 on their vessel and amongst their crew. It is important to note however that, given the limited space on board most small fish vessels, if any person on board the vessel has COVID-19, it will be difficult to contain transmission of the virus to the rest of the crew.
We know that not all vessels will feel it feasible to implement every best practice within this document. It is the intention that harvesters will apply what they can from this document to ensure the safest work environment possible for themselves and their fellow crew members.
**These safe work practices are not an indication that the fishery will open May 1st. Council and Committees are still discussing the possibility of further postponements to various fisheries.**