Project number: 2017-046
Project Status:
Budget expenditure: $321,720.00
Principal Investigator: Kate J. Brooks
Organisation: KAL Analysis
Project start/end date: 5 Oct 2017 - 29 Sep 2020


High rates of work related injury and illness exist within Australia's commercial fishing industry, compared to other primary industries. A large proportion of current WHS approaches appear to be either underutilised or ineffective in reducing work related injury and illness frequency rates. The wild catch sector has identified a need to explore how to affect cultural shifts that increase the adoption of behaviours that create safe work environments and improve outcomes for the industry. Opportunities exist to learn from fisheries that are in the process of, or have adopted improved and positive WHS attitudes and behaviours, and to identify how they may be successfully shared with other fisheries.

Fishing industry representatives identify the desirability of simultaneously generating positive WHS outcomes while undertaking research. It is clearly recognised that the industry is averse to strengthening regulatory and compliance requirements, but seek the identification of behaviours and psychological factors that underpin established, or potential improvements in safety culture and behaviours, with a view to improving WHS outcomes. Given sensitivities to WHS regulatory recriminations, it is also a clear requirement and undertaking of this research to respect the anonymity of research participants in the data, and to protect them from any direct negative regulatory actions as a result of their participation in the research.

A need has also been identified to develop a set of principles, that may be promulgated nationally and utilised by industry to improve WHS outcomes, with the benefit of potentially minimising regulatory impositions.

It is also acknowledged that opportunities exit to improve WHS outcomes in the aquaculture and retail sectors. While the wild catch is the focus of this project, it will seek to identify any knowledge that may also by applicable to and utilised by these other sectors.


1. To generate knowledge to foster a stronger safety culture in the wild catch commercial fishing industry, and identify relevant recommendations also applicable to the aquaculture and retail sectors.
2. Identify the barriers (environmental, behavioural, psychological, regulatory, and market based) to adoption and implementation of safe work practises.
3. Identify the specific factors contributing to improvements in industry safety culture.


Author: Kate Brooks
Brochure • 2018-04-03 • 419.85 KB
2017-046-Whats stopping you from keeping you and your mates safe Intro Nov 2017.pdf


Thanks to the FRDC, Dr Kate Brooks and a small team of researchers and industry people are working to identify exactly what factors are stopping the commercial fishing industry from adopting safe work practices and looking out for themselves and others while on the job.

Project products

Flyer • 2018-05-01 • 4.54 MB
NSW Survey Notification.pdf


Dr Kate Brooks, Alex Thomas and/or Woody (OceanWatch) will be visiting your area - Newcastle, Sydney, the Clarence River – McLean, Iluka, and Yamba, and Cos Harbour - between May 29th and June 8th.

Flyer • 2018-09-03 • 44.47 KB
Fisher brief_ Survey result update_ WHS Survey V2.pdf


Remember the safety survey you completed for either one or both of these two women – Dr Kate Brooks and Alex Thomas - or online, some months ago? You have been heard!
Media • 2018-06-04 • 10.81 MB
rr fishing survey[1].mp3


ABC rural hour's Brooke Neindorf interviewing Dr Kate Brooks
Report • 2018-09-27 • 365.24 KB
Technical brief on Initial survey results_041018.pdf



As a result of the ongoing high levels of accidents and incidents in the fishing industry, an FRDC funded survey was released in April 2018. It was both an online and face to face survey to explore the safety culture of the fishing industry across Australia. The following summarises the initial findings from the survey analysis, which will be discussed with fishers in the case study locations, face to face, in meetings in October and November 2018.

Report • 2019-09-23 • 2.36 MB
2017-046-Appendix 3_Lit Review.pdf


This report provides a review of previous industry (and wider) approaches to improve workplace, health and safety practices and develop strong(er) safety cultures. This review included literature on modifying workplace, health and safety behaviours in the fishing industry in Australia and internationally, as well as across a broad range of industry sectors, such as road and rail transport, aviation, healthcare and education in Australia and elsewhere.
Report • 2019-09-23 • 2.07 MB
2017-046-Appendix 4_WHS Survey Findings.pdf


This report presents the findings of the survey work undertaken as one component of the FRDC 2017-046 project, “What’s stopping you from protecting yourself and your mates? Identifying barriers to the adoption of safe work practices in in the small-scale wild catch commercial fishing industry”.
Report • 2019-09-23 • 2.17 MB
2017-046-Appendix 5_Focus Group Findings.pdf


This report presents the findings of the focus group and interview work undertaken to explore the elements on the Australian seafood industries safety culture. These elements were, management approaches to safety and participation in the development of safety programs and regulations. The report also sought to delve further into the safety values, preconceptions and attitudes affecting decision making and behaviours with fishers in an offshore fishery in North Western Australia and in offshore and estuary fisheries between Sydney and Ballina, in New South Wales.
Final Report • 2019-10-17 • 2.33 MB


The project was developed to explore the barriers to improving the culture of safety in the wild catch fishing industry. It undertook a three-stage process of a literature review, survey of the Safety climate to understand the status of the safety climate in the industry and identify its strengths and weaknesses. The third stage was a .series of focus groups undertaken in the two case study locations in NSW and Western Australia.

Brochure • 2019-10-17 • 317.15 KB



This brochure provides a brief summary of the outcomes of the FRDC project 2017-046 'What’s stopping you from keeping you & your mates safe?' Barriers to the adoption of work, health and safety in the fishing industry. This project arose from growing concern over increasing numbers of fishers losing their lives at sea, in spite of improved work, health and safety (WHS) equipment, regulation and other measures.

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