The organization that oversees worker safety in British Columbia is taking steps to reduce risks faced by commercial fishing crews.

WorkSafeBC says all crew members on the deck of a fishing vessel must now wear a life-jacket or personal flotation device.

Until the amendment took effect June 3, workers on commercial fishing boats were only required to wear a life-jacket when working under conditions that involved a risk of drowning.

WorkSafeBC reports 24 work-related deaths in the commercial fishing industry between 2007 and 2018 and 15 of those were linked to drowning.

The updated regulation stems from Transportation Safety Board recommendations made after the fatal capsizing of the fishing vessel Caledonian near Tofino in September 2015.

Three of the four crewmen died and the lone survivor was the only one wearing a life-jacket.

“Commercial fishing is one of the most dangerous occupations in British Columbia and drowning is the leading cause of death among B.C. fishermen,” says Patrick Olsen, manager of prevention field services for WorkSafeBC.

“No matter what your role is on the vessel, crew safety affects everyone,” he says in a statement.

“We are addressing the specific hazards of commercial fishing to better ensure crew member safety.”

Files from The Canadian Press.

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