Blog Post #720 – Poor Cell Phone Reception a Risk at Sea

Excerpt from the OH&S Canada magazine

Poor cell phone reception in the Maritimes is being cited as a health and safety risk for the fishing industry.

Fisherman Sandy Kavanaugh told the media on March 4, 2013, that poor cell phone reception is hindering the ability of his peers to communicate in his neighbourhood of Canso, Nova Scotia and on Chedabucto Bay.

Cell phones are used by fisherman to request clearance to dock their catch and serve as a back-up means of communication. Kavanaugh says confusion and disorganization of the marinas often occur when poor reception hinders fisherman from obtaining permission to dock after being out to sea.

“We can’t go fishing until we get a number to go out, and we can’t come in until we get a number to come in,” Kavanaugh says. “If you get a fish, you have got to call to get a number so you can land at the wharf.”

He adds that he has circulated petitions pushing for better cell phone coverage in the bay area. He also claims that the problem has reached the point where one fisherman had to install his own personal nine metre antenna and a booster to his boat to improve reception.

Guysborough-Sheet Harbour MLA Jim Boudreau says he will work with cell phone service providers to assess whether provision of more towers or better reception is feasible in the remote area.

My opinion

You would wonder if this type of work sector (fishing) would have realized earlier that communication, or the lack thereof, is an essential part of the daily safety features needed to survive off the shores of the Canadian coast. To think that our fishermen MAY not have the essential tools to communicate with other ships and home ports is unacceptable!

Mind you, one fisherman saw the writing on the wall and bought and installed a better communication device including a nine metre antenna and a signal booster. This clearly is the right approach and I do wonder how many others followed suit.

What is your opinion here? Should the government mandate the specialized equipment and make it a part of the day-to-day communication, or do you believe the onus is on the fisherman to protect themselves? Either way, the fishing fleets as well as the single fisherman MUST be protected.

Remember – In Ontario, “ALL Accidents are Preventable”

HRS Group Inc. has a great team that can help you with all your health and safety needs including ‘Due Diligence’ and ‘Standard Operating Procedures’. Contact Deborah toll free at 1-877-907-7744 or locally at 705-749-1259.

We can also be reached at 

‘Work’ and ‘Play’ safe.

Daniel L. Beal
CHSEP – Advanced Level
VP & Senior Trainer
HRS Group Inc.

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