Project number: 2017-194
Project Status:
Budget expenditure: $692,000.00
Principal Investigator: Steve J. Eayrs
Organisation: Western Australian Fishing Industry Council Inc (WAFIC)
Project start/end date: 28 Feb 2018 - 28 Feb 2020


The fishing industry ranks amongst the highest risk industries in Australia for safety, yet there are considerable barriers to basic safety training, including:

• Cost – operators cannot afford it
• Time – Courses are infrequent throughout the year. This does not meet the operational needs of the industry, where workers may be required at short notice.
• Location – Courses are usually delivered in major cities. This makes access to the training difficult for many workers, including once they are at sea.
• Context – Courses are usually delivered in a classroom setting with activities related to survival in emergency situations at sea. They do not address general workplace safety such as manual handling, electrical safety, fall protection, noise, fatigue, hazardous substances, personal protective equipment (PPE), etc.
• Access – The internet is rarely available at sea, making access to safety training and information impossible for much of the time workers are fishing.
• Demographic – workers in the fishing industry are largely represented by young, early school leavers with a high sense of adventure and risk appetite. Learning must be structured with this in mind to ensure the learner is engaged and the lessons are delivered effectively.
• Culture - the information both subliminal as well as overt sent out about safety.

The electronic LMS, which is the fundamental base for this project, is to be designed to address all of the above barriers, and provide a structured, cheap, easily accessible and timely safety course, in a manner which is readily absorbed and understood by the crew member undertaking the course. The training modules are to be delivered online and offline, making them accessible anywhere at any time and can also be tailored to specific industry sectors, while retaining the core units, and aim to achieve best practice in all aspects of WHS.

RIRDC initiated a project (attached) due to significant knowledge deficiencies in the area of commercial fishing occupational health and safety data and of the existing circumstances of the industry. The gaps in knowledge have arisen due to previous difficulties in collating and interpreting data, which have resulted from disaggregation of State data, creating difficulties in data analysis at the national level; availability of state data; and the nature of the fishing industry which results in many participants not being included in official statistics or records.

The report found that there was a lack of awareness of occupational health and safety, or safety
culture, and that it still fails to be effectively dealt with across all States of Australia. The OHS data identifies that the claims for fatal injuries in aquaculture and non fatal in marine (or wild capture) fisheries are both increasing. The most ‘at risk’ group in the industry are those between the ages of 20 to 24 years, with those aged 45 – 54 years being the next most at risk group, who will receive injuries from non powered hand tools to their upper bodies.


1. Design and trial the electronic Learning Management System in the Northern Prawn Fishery, and up to three other Australian domestic fisheries. Monitor the uptake, utility, and determine feedback on ease of use and applicability from the trials, to help make necessary modifications before distribution to others.
2. Create linkages and pathways for the LMS to be taken up by industry associations and agencies to be used in championing the improvement in safety culture and training with on-ground fishers.
3. Based on the trials, facilitate further development of 'fishery specific' modules via assistance from the PI and technical input from consultants (365 Solutions) to improve efficiency of the program and direct relevance to specific fisheries/sectors and/or agencies.
4. Utilise information from existing in-progress and under development safety projects funded by FRDC to ensure that the LMS is designed to optimise adoption and uptake by industry.
5. Identify and, where feasible, implement mechanisms to integrate the LMS into the overall marine safety program aimed at changing the culture and behaviour towards safety of the fishing industry.

Final report

ISBN: 978-0-646-85379-6
Author: Stephen Eayrs
Final Report • 2.51 MB


The SeSAFE project represented a unique and successful collaboration between the fishing industry, the Fisheries Research and Development Corporation (FRDC), and the Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) to improve safety awareness and performance in the fishing and aquaculture industry. For the first time, vessel crews were provided online access to modularised safety training that could be completed at home, onboard, or any other location. They could also complete the training offline, for example at sea, providing they downloaded modules beforehand. Importantly, SeSAFE training could also be provided to inexperienced crew before they step foot onboard, not afterwards as is tradition practice, thus filling a key safety void and risk. 
A total of 48 safety modules (videos) were developed covering a range of generic safety topics such as emergency response, personal safety, and operational safety. A suite of fishery-specific modules was also developed for prawn fisheries around the country and the Western Rock Lobster fishery. 
The delivery of modularised safety training proved to overcome many of the historical barriers to safety training, both perceived and otherwise, and over 250 fishers, many on a recurrent basis. It is estimated that over 80% of skippers and crew in the Northern Prawn Fishery (NPF) were engaged in SeSAFE training, while significant numbers of skippers and crews in other fisheries have done likewise. Greater project success was anticipated, although it was hampered by COVID 19 and associated impact on the industry, as well as restricting the ability of the SeSAFE Principal Investigator to engage with this industry around the country.

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