Loch Duart launches new ‘person overboard’ alert system

Loch Duart, Health & Safety Manager, David McKeown wears POB System

Scottish salmon farmer Loch Duart has introduced a new ‘person overboard’ (POB) system, which it says will provide greater safety for all its team who work at sea.

The system, which leads the way in the aquaculture sector, is an industry first for the independently owned business which has sea sites off the coast of Sutherland and the Outer Hebrides. Once activated on contact with water, the new POB system sends a distress signal to alert all radios, boats and landing craft in the vicinity that the person is overboard.

Loch Duart’s Health and Safety manager David McKeown (pictured) worked with engineering firm Watt Marine Ltd. to develop the system. He also consulted with the Marine Coast Guard Agency who approved the new system. While safety measures for the team already meet regulatory requirements, this new, robust system, unique to Loch Duart, means that the company is now going above and beyond current standards for team safety.

The new man overboard system developed and adopted by Loch Duart means that:-

All Loch Duart staff working at sea will be fitted with a personal location device.

If a person goes overboard by accident or due to weather conditions, the device is automatically activated when the life jacket is deployed – all life jackets automatically deploy when in salt sea water.

Within 15 seconds of activation the system sends out a distress signal and alerts all radios, boats and landing craft in the vicinity that the person is overboard.

Within 45 seconds the personal location device sets off an audible alarm on the farm.

Within 1 minute the personal location device sends a further distress signal to the Coastguard and other vessels within the area.

David 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 Ltd. 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.”

Struan Eaglesham, Director of Watt Marine Ltd. who helped develop the system, added: “Watt Marine Ltd. has supplied, installed and serviced marine electronics systems to Loch Duart for many years. With no off-the-shelf solution available, we designed, developed, tested and implemented the new system to further improve workforce safety. Working with Echomaster Marine Ltd we then developed and implemented the man overboard system, which utilises Personal Flotation Devices, VHF radios and Automatic Identification System systems.“

Kerrie Forster, Chief executive officer of The Work Boat Association, 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.”