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The use of narrative theory in understanding and preventing accidents in the fishing industry Michael Murray, PhD Division of Community Health Memorial.

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Presentation on theme: "The use of narrative theory in understanding and preventing accidents in the fishing industry Michael Murray, PhD Division of Community Health Memorial."— Presentation transcript:

1 The use of narrative theory in understanding and preventing accidents in the fishing industry Michael Murray, PhD Division of Community Health Memorial University of Newfoundland St. John’s, NF, Canada A1B 3V6

2 Accidents in the fisheries Limited previous psychological research Underdeveloped theoretical framework Quantitative methods Need for qualitative work informed by theory

3 Narrative theory Human’s view the world in the form of narratives The construction of narrative is a means of organizing and making sense of the temporal flux Stories are told from the end (or middle) rather than from the beginning Understanding narrative structure tells us about how the narrator view the world and him/herself Challenging narrative offers potential for change

4 Interviews Semi-structured interviews with 40 fishermen from different parts of the island of Newfoundland Biographical and narrative structure –the life of being a fisherman –accidents Some points from interviews Changing narratives

5 Community narrative Newfoundland fishermen live in small relatively isolated communities They have a strong historical sense of identity This identity is partly driven by the sense of isolation and includes self-sufficiency and caution about outside interference

6 Where is Newfoundland

7 Fishing grounds

8 Fishing community

9 Personal narrative Fishing is an inherited occupation Fishermen socially inherit stories about fishing from their family Fishing is identified as an independent and exciting lifestyle Accidents are part of the traditional fisherman narrative

10 Life of a fisherman Traditional way of life –unchanging; father - son they were always part of my life, boats. [My father] started fishing a couple of years before I did. That's more or less why I got into it....cause he started, and he wanted a partner and a bit of company.... so that's how I got into the fishery. But my grandfather, and his father before, was into the fishery for years and years. I fished with him for a couple of years

11 Joys of fishing Freedom I enjoy it yah. I really do...I wouldn't give it up, not unless I was offered an excellent job, I might consider it. As it stands right now, I'm contented fishing, and still making ends meet right now. And if the fishery was in good shape I wouldn't think of it. Even now that the cod fishery is gone, we still got our crab, and our lump, and our caplin. I guess, sometimes you can make a bit of quick money, and you got your freedom, more so than anything else, at the fishery. It's the lifestyle I've been used to....I'm too much involved now, with the boat and gear, just to throw it down, and say that's it, quit. I just can't do it.

12 Joys of fishing Excitement I loves it...The excitement I finds, when you are hauling the trap you can see the fish going, right.......same as when you're taking gear back, you see the fish coming on the gear. Going and just getting the fish. It's something... whatever job you likes....a carpenter likes seeing a house go up, well, I likes to see fish coming in. Same thing I suppose. It is a challenge. Cause he's the smartest fish, he's not a stupid fish, a cod fish. You could be hauling a trap and you got a hole the size of this fish sees that and they're gone. One follows the other one. That's why they calls them Cod.....he's not a stupid fish....You'd have to be there sometimes to see it, right. They'll be fishing on days this year.....I could bring you out on a day when we went out, and we've hit it rough. You probably wouldn't want to go, you probably want to go back, right.

13 Being a fisherman Taking risks in the fishery people are going to take risks, while the fishery is there, bigger risks than the other people, some people are more successful at it than others, and some people are not taking as big of a risk as long as they makes a go of it, you know, that's the nature of people, the way I sees it. If you gets into a fishing boat, anywhere in Newfoundland suppose, but up our way you're taking a risk everyday you goes out, I mean it might be black thick with fog a lot of days, I mean, you're on your own then anyway. Unless you have a radio

14 Accidents Part of the job There's a lot of little things that happen that don't keep a fellow ashore, but little things like getting your finger squat, and fellows getting cuts on their hand and that kind of stuff. More so than serious stuff like fellows falling down and breaking a leg or something. That don't happen often. That's [minor injuries] accepted as part of the job. You know, when you're around baiting up gear, a fellow will say I drove 2 or 3 hooks in my hand today, and here he is with band-aids on three or four fingers, right. And he's there cutting up that old squid then with that squid juice that can really cut into an open cut like that and make it really bad.

15 Accident narrative Causes of accidents –Untidy boats –Hurrying –Rhythm of work –Overloading –Attitude

16 Not carelessness Well, more or less, the nature of fishing, as it is, I wouldn't call it carelessness because there's no fellows doing anything to hurt themselves, intentionally. But you does something sometimes in those small boats, like in the lobster fishery, they does something to hurry up a process, and the end result, whether it's carelessness, I wouldn't call it carelessness, they're trying to do something right. In the fishery that I'm involved in boy, we were involved in the trap and hook and line fishery, I mean, the biggest dangers you see, is if you're hanging on in bad weather to fish. Hauling to get the know you could find that you get into more trouble than you want. But you always try to avoid that right.

17 Judgement call Well, a lot of it would happen, cause, I mean, it's a judgement call I suppose, as to whether it's an unnecessary risk, cause sometimes you have to take risks, and it's just a matter of 'do I protect myself', especially if I go out, and it is late at evening, and there's nobody else out, and there is a nice breeze of wind on, or a sea on, those...... sometimes you will question as to whether a person should have done that. And obviously, if he's got gear in the water, he's got to get up and go out, if there's a reasonable chance of him getting out there and back, then he's got to do that. Everybody does. But, you know, especially with the cuts and stuff like that, boats are going to roll and it's unpredictable, you know, a split second later, it wouldn't have happened. So some of it is just that you forget for the moment, but others is sort of pretty much unavoidable.

18 Narrative identity and accidents Fishermen part of what seems like a long unchanging story To be a fisherman gives you freedom and excitement To be a fisherman is to be a risk-taker but not a careless risk taker Accidents can happen Fishermen have a long knowledge of the sea

19 Personal narratives and accidents People narrate their identity Fishermen narrate an old story –of fishing being part of their lives, unchanging, way their fathers did it –of the need to take careful risks, not to take risk is not to be a man –of powerlessness against substantial odds - a story of man against the elements

20 Changes in the fishing industry Moratorium Professionalization Certification Training New fishermen Opportunity to create a new narrative

21 Using narrative theory to reduce accidents Challenge accepted stories Involve fishermen in developing a new story Participant action research

22 Simulation exercises Narrative structure of simulations Fishermen enact particular sequences Group setting to facilitate interactive learning - to learn from each other Challenge established narrative - bring scientific knowledge into the narrative Empowerment - they have control

23 Further details Details derived from a project funded by the Department of Employment and Labour Relations, Occupational Health and Safety Branch, Government of Newfoundland and Labrador Research conducted with the assistance of the Fishery Food and Allied Workers union Research assistant for the original project was Mark Dolomount More details are available at our website

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