Download Download report


On 16 August 2012, the factory trawler Volstad was fishing for cod in the northern part of the Barents Sea. One of the fishermen on board died while he was working alone in the freezer hold, packing blocks of frozen fish. The accident happened when the fisherman was about to sort out blocks that had jammed on the conveyor belt. The deceased was found stuck at the end of the conveyor belt with the left side of his jacket wrapped around the belt's drive shaft. His jacket had been pulled down with great force towards the inclined conveyor. This has probably resulted in the fisherman being unable to breathe. The deceased was trapped on the conveyor belt for approximately 11-14 minutes before he was cut loose and efforts were made to save his life.

The Accident Investigation Board Norway (AIBN) believes that a key safety problem relating to this accident was that, when the conveyor belts were installed in 2009, the rotating parts were not adequately guarded. The AIBN also believes that the accident occurred as the result of several conditions that each increased the total risk of working in the freezer hold, without any of them clearly indicating an accident was forthcoming.

Verbal guidelines stated that the conveyor belts were to be stopped before attempts were made to sort out jammed blocks. The AIBN’s investigation shows that this was not the practice on board, however. In this context, the AIBN believes that more active involvement on the part of the shipping company relating to the use of working environment committees, follow-up of the shipboard management’s review and internal audits could have contributed to identifying and changing this unsafe work practice.

According to the shipping company a new risk assessment of work in the freezer hold was carried out when the conveyor belts were installed in 2009. The results of the risk assessment were not documented in writing.  The conveyor belt was not assessed to represent a great risk. In the AIBN’s view, a thorough assessment of risks associated with the conveyor belt itself and of any hazards arising when the belt was installed in the freezer hold could have led to better safety measures.

After the accident, the shipping company and the conveyor belt manufacturer have completed a new risk assessment. The result of this assessment shows that cooperation between a professional equipment manufacturer and the shipping company as employer improves the ability to identify hazards and, not least, the ability to introduce relevant risk-reducing measures.

With regard to operational safety relating to fishing and production processes in the oceangoing fishing fleet, the current Regulations relating to the design, fitting out, operation and inspection of fishing vessels of 15 metres and more, and the Regulations relating to the working environment etc. on board ships contribute little to improving the shipping companies’ ability to identify hazards and introduce relevant risk-reducing measures.

The AIBN proposes two safety recommendations (see the report Appendix A) as a result of this investigation. One safety recommendation is submitted to the shipping company relating to compliance with the safety management system. The other safety recommendation is submitted to the Norwegian Maritime Directorate and relates to the need to improve the shipping company’s safety management work with regard to personal safety in the oceangoing fishing fleet.

This report is in Norwegian only. English summary is included.

Safety recommendation

Safety recommendation MARINE No 2013/17T

The investigation after the occupational accident on Volstad has uncovered a work practice on board where important guidelines relating to stopping the conveyor belts before attempting to sort out jammed blocks were not complied with. More active involvement on the part of the shipping company relating to the establishment and use of working environment committees, follow-up of the shipboard management’s review and internal audits could have identified and rectified this unfortunate practice.

The AIBN recommends that the shipping company Volstad AS follow up the HSE work on board and, in cooperation with the crew, endeavour to find solutions that ensure compliance with the safety management system.

Safety recommendation MARINE No 2013/18T

The accident on Volstad is one of many occupational accidents that have occurred in the oceangoing fishing fleet in connection with the use of fishing equipment and work in factories and cargo holds. The current regulations set few requirements for the design and operation of this equipment, and the authorities only assess the operational safety to a limited extent. This means that the operational safety largely depends on the individual shipping company’s ability to identify hazards, carry out risk assessment of these and implement adequate risk-reducing measures. In several investigations, the AIBN has identified weaknesses in the shipping companies’ work relating to risk assessments.

The AIBN recommends that the Norwegian Maritime Directorate, in cooperation with the industry’s special interest organisations, consider measures to improve the shipping companies’ safety management work and their ability to identify hazards, carry out risk assessments and implement adequate risk-reducing measures, with a view to improving personal safety in connection with fishing and production processes on board oceangoing vessels.

The Barents Sea
Occurrence date
Accident category
Personal injury
International Waters
IMO number
Name of vessel
Accident type
Fatal Accident, Occupational accident
Vessel type
Fishing Vessel
The Norwegian Ship Register
Skriv ut
Reports same area
Reports same accident category