With legislative amendments enacted December 4, 2022, fishing vessels are now included as a place of employment under the Occupational Health and Safety Act. This means that fishing vessel owners and their captains will be legislated to provide healthy and safe workplaces, as with all other employers in the province. They will have access to WorkSafeNB prevention resources for advice and enforcement, leading to safer workplaces.

The amendments also address PFD and lifejacket use. Employers/captains must provide crew with PFDs and lifejackets approved by Transport Canada and ensure their use – it is now mandatory to wear a PFD or lifejacket on fishing vessels.

WorkSafeNB believes that all workers deserve a healthy and safe workplace, whether that workplace is on land or on the sea. We look forward to working with you to make this happen, and hope you will find the following resources helpful:

Frequently Asked Questions

A fishing vessel is defined as any vessel that is used, outfitted, or designed for catching, collecting, processing, or transporting fish or other living marine resources for commercial purposes.

A fisher (or fish harvester) is defined as an owner, employer, supervisor, or an employee of a fishing  vessel.

While the regulation includes language specific to decked vessels, the requirements for both types of vessels are the same. Fishers on both decked and undecked vessels must wear personal flotation devices (PFDs) or life jackets unless in very specific circumstances.

Life jackets or PFDs must be worn at all all times when working on a fishing vessel. While the legislation treats fishing vessels with or without deck structures differently, the requirement for people working on those vessels is the same: a life jacket or PFD must always be worn.

For fishing vessels with a deck structure, the requirement for a life jacket or PFD is found in subsection 51(2) of the General Regulation. For vessels with no deck structure, the requirement is found in subsection 51(2.1).

Three potential exceptions to the regulation that life jackets or PFDs be worn at all times when working on a fishing vessel are:

  •  Life jackets or PFDs are not required in spaces such as a galley, head, or berth area in fishing vessels with living quarters or work rooms below deck.
  •  When inside a closed cabin on the boat’s deck.
  •  Fall protection, such as guardrails, may be used on boats with a deck structure. However, typical guardrails on a fishing vessel likely do not meet the   regulatory requirements for guardrails and may need to be modified. A full guardrail must have a top rail between 900 mm and 1.07m high, a middle rail   and a toe board.


With fishing vessels now considered a place of employment, all the same laws and regulations that apply to employers apply to fishing vessels. This includes: the Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) Act; General Regulation 91-191; and the regulations for Working Alone; Workplace Hazardous Materials Information System; and, First Aid.



Fishing vessel owners/employers do not need to register for workers’ compensation, although voluntary coverage is available. Voluntary coverage is recommended if the owner/employer has no other form of insurance covering the fishers on their vessel. With voluntary coverage, a vessel owner/employer) ensures any crew member who suffers a work-related injury or illness is eligible for health care, wage loss and rehabilitation benefits. Additionally, voluntary coverage protects a vessel owner/employer from lawsuits by workers who are injured on the job.

To register for voluntary coverage, call 1 800 999-9775 (option 4) or email

Voluntary coverage application form


All lifejackets and PFDs must be approved by:

  •  Transport Canada or
  •  Canadian General Standards Board Standard CAN/CGSB-65.11-M88, Personal Flotation Devices or
  •  Underwriters Laboratories, Inc. Standard UL 1180, Fully Inflatable Recreational Personal Flotation Devices


Yes, life jackets and PFDs must be inspected regularly and in accordance with the manufacturer’s specifications. PFDs with deployment cartridges must be inspected and re-set annually and after any time that the cartridge deploys.


Under New Brunswick’s Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) Act , employers must take every reasonable precaution to ensure their employees’ health and safety. Employers must also provide new employees with health and safety orientation and job-specific training before they begin work at the workplace. Employers with 20 or more regularly employed staff members are required under the OHS Act to have a health and safety program.

Emergency planning must be part of a company’s management system to fully ensure that all safety systems, procedures, and processes are in place. Because emergencies are unexpected and unpredicted, they are difficult to plan for. Therefore, it is important for employers to consult with all employees and external emergency services for feedback on how best to deal with potential situations.

As an employer, you must assess the risks in your workplace/operations and create a plan to deal with potential emergencies. You must have the necessary equipment for dealing with potential emergencies and ensure that all employees are trained in the emergency procedures and in the use of emergency equipment before starting work.

Every employer has reporting responsibilities under the Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) Act when an accident, injury or illness happens in the workplace (in this case, the fishing vessel). Under the OHS Act, in the event of an accident, injury or illness you must:

  •  Provide or pay the cost of immediate transportation from the injury site to a medical treatment facility.
  •  Notify WorkSafeNB IMMEDIATELY to report:
    •  Fatalities
    •  Loss of consciousness
    •  Amputations      
    •  Fractures (other than fingers or toes)
    •  Burns requiring medical attention beyond first aid treatment
    •  Loss of vision in one or both eyes
    •  Deep lacerations requiring medical attention beyond first aid treatment
    •  Worker admission to a hospital as an in-patient    
    •  Any accidental explosion or exposure to a biological, chemical, or physical agent, whether a person is injured
    •  Any catastrophic event or equipment failure that results, or could have resulted in an injury

To notify WorkSafeNB immediately, call 1 800 999-9775, indicating:

  •  Location
  •  Name of person injured, if applicable
  •  Employer name
  •  Contact person
  •  Brief description of the incident


Until June 1, 2024, WorkSafeNB will focus on education and awareness of the requirements that fishing vessels and their owners/captains must follow. The aim is to ensure the industry understands the requirements and how they can voluntarily comply with the regulations. WorkSafeNB will begin to enforce the requirements on fishing vessels on June 1, 2024.


As of June 1, 2024, WorkSafeNB will have the authority to investigate incidents on fishing vessels. In the event of an incident, we will work with our colleagues at Transport Canada, the Transportation Safety Board and the Department of Fisheries and Oceans to determine jurisdiction.


Yes. An overboard incident would be regarded as a catastrophic event that could result in injury or death so must be immediately reported to WorkSafeNB at      1 800 999-9775.












Activity Book

Safe at Sea - Activity Book for Children

Other Resources

While the risk of drowning is a common hazard in the fishing industry, there are several other hazards to be aware of to avoid injury. The following resources can help:

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