Sutherland-based salmon farm Loch Duart has introduced a new person overboard (POB) system in an “industry first” in a bid to ensure greater safety for its team working at sea.
The system, which is claimed leads the way in the aquaculture sector, is an industry first for the company which has sea sites off the coast of Sutherland and the Outer Hebrides.
All Loch Duart staff, when working at sea, will be fitted with a personal location device.
The device is automatically activated when a life jacket is deployed and on contact with water it will send a distress signal to alert all radios, boats and landing craft in the vicinity within 15 seconds.
Loch Duart is now, arguably, ahead of everyone else in the sector regarding safety at sea.”
David McKeown, Loch Duart health and safety manager
Within 45 seconds the personal location device sets off an audible alarm on the farm and within 1 minute it sends a further distress signal to the Coastguard and other vessels within the area.
David McKeown, Loch Duart’s health and safety manager worked with Ullapool-based engineering firm Watt Marine to develop the system which has been approved by Marine Scotland.
Mr McKeown, said: “Our people are the most important pillar of Loch Duart’s success, and we are always looking at ways to further improve their safety.
“We worked closely with Watt Marine to push the standards higher and improve safety at sea beyond the industry norm. Loch Duart is now, arguably, ahead of everyone else in the sector regarding safety at sea.”
‘More than 6,000 tonnes of fish produced annually
Loch Duart, which employs 160 people, produces more than 6,000 tonnes of salmon each year, from its farms in Sutherland and the Outer Hebrides.
Struan Eaglesham, Watt Marine director, said: “With no off-the-shelf solution available, we designed, developed, tested and implemented the new system to further improve workforce safety.”
The move has been welcomed by Kerrie Forster, The Work Boat Association chief executive officer, who said: “Loch Duart has made big strides to better protect the welfare of those working on Loch Duart sites.
“Thanks to the open sharing of the project’s outcomes at industry safety groups, such as the Workboat Association Safety Forum and the Aquaculture Safety Group, they have championed change across the whole sector.
“Well done to all the team involved.”