Accidents can happen and you or a member of your crew could end up in the water unexpectedly. Wearing a Personal Floatation Device (PFD) at all times on deck will significantly increase your chances of survival if you go overboard. You should also wear a Personal Locator Beacon (PLB) so rescue services can find you quicker.

“I couldn’t have survived 5 minutes in there without one of these on.”

Fisherman from man overboard awareness event.

Book a MOB awareness course

Why wear a PFD?

  • 85% of deaths on fishing vessels in the past 10 years have involved someone falling in the water. Wearing a PFD gives you the best chance of survival.
  • If correctly fitted and maintained, it will help you to float (even if you’re unconscious), which buys you precious time until help arrives.
  • If fitted with a PLB, it makes it easier for rescue services to find you if you drift from the vessel or you are alone.
  • It dramatically increases your chances of survival – you’re four times more likely to survive in the sea if you wear one.
  • You are legally required to wear one on deck. If you or your crew are caught without one, you could be fined.

Top tips

  • Make sure you know how your PFD and PLB works. PLBs usually have to be manually activated so make sure you know how to do it. There are different makes and models to suit all body shapes and heights.
  • Ensure it is fitted correctly, including wearing a crotch strap.
  • Regularly inspect your PFD and PLB for wear and tear and make sure it is in date. Get your PFD serviced in line with the manufacturer’s instructions, and keep a serviced spare onboard for when yours is being serviced. Most PLBs need to be serviced manually. MCA inspectors will check this.
  • Wear your PFD on top of oilskin jackets and not underneath, so that it has space to inflate.

Watch more safety videos

Safety tips from fishermen

Ashley Mullenger, whelk fisherman from Wells-next-the-Sea, was surprised at how difficult it was to keep afloat without a PFD during a man overboard awareness event.

Brian Chambers, a crab and lobster fisherman from Northern Ireland, is a single-handed skipper and always wears a PFD when he goes to sea.

John Clark, Scottish skipper and vessel owner, had an accident which made him realise how important safety procedures are on board fishing vessels.