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Evaluating ergonomic stresses in North Carolina commercial crab pot and gill net fishermen.

Kucera-K; Mirka-GA; Loomis-D; Marshall-SW; Lipscomb-HJ; Daniels-J
J Occup Environ Hyg 2008 Mar; 5(3):182-196
There are challenges in evaluating physical demands of commercial fishing, including identifying sources of exposure variability. Low back biomechanical stresses associated with crab pot and gill net fishing were estimated; the variability was partitioned between and within fishing type, crew size, job title, and worker to improve understanding of risk factors for low back injury. The authors observed 162 person-hours of work among 25 North Carolina commercial fishermen on 16 crews. Postures and forces during fishing tasks were measured through direct and indirect observation using two methods to determine the percentage of time fishermen were exposed to high levels of low back stress. A multilevel linear model estimated exposure variability for the dependent variables by four nesting variables: fishing type, crew size, job title, and worker. Fishermen set and pulled crab pots or gill nets for 80% of the workday. Twenty-five percent of that time was spent handling gear. For both fishing types, handling heavy loads produced high peak compression values (3586 N to 5315 N) and high NIOSH lifting index values (3.3 to 5.4), but these tasks represent a small percentage of the overall work time (0 to 14%). The majority of exposure variation in non-neutral trunk posture and/or force>9 kg, handling materials, NIOSH Lifting Index >1, and Lumbar Motion Monitor probability of highrisk group membership >70% was accounted for by fishing type (range 60 to 91%). Crew size was not an important source of variability for these six variables when fishing type and job title were accounted for in the model; but in the model restricted to crab pot fishing, crew size accounted for 51 to 88% of the variability in low back stress. For both models, job title comprised the majority of exposure variability for NIOSH Lifting Index >3.0 (46 and 65%) and worker comprised the majority of variability for spine compression>3400 N (54 and 65%). The magnitude and duration of musculoskeletal loads experienced by fishermen vary by the type of fishing and the tasks performed by the worker. Understanding this variability may help researchers target ergonomic interventions for this work population.
Ergonomics; Fishing-industry; Acute-exposure; Traumatic-injuries; Occupational-accidents; Occupational-diseases; Occupational-exposure; Occupational-hazards; Occupational-health; Occupational-psychology; Occupational-safety-programs; Occupations; Health-hazards; Health-standards; Safety-climate; Safety-education; Safety-equipment; Safety-measures; Safety-monitoring; Safety-personnel; Safety-practices; Safety-programs; Water-industry; Muscle-function; Muscle-stress; Muscle-tension; Musculoskeletal-system-disorders; Exposure-assessment; Exposure-levels; Exposure-limits; Exposure-methods; Kinetic-energy; Kinetics; Author Keywords: exposure variability; low back; mixed model; variance
Kristen Kucera, Division of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, Department of Community and Family Medicine, Duke University, 2200 W. Main St., Suite 400, Durham, NC 27705
Publication Date
Document Type
Journal Article
Funding Type
Cooperative Agreement
Fiscal Year
NTIS Accession No.
NTIS Price
Identifying No.
Cooperative-Agreement-Number-U50-OH-007551; Grant-Number-R01-OH-008249
Issue of Publication
SIC Code
Source Name
Journal of Occupational and Environmental Hygiene
Performing Organization
Duke University-Durham, North Carolina