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Use of the CABS methodology to assess biomechanical stress in commercial crab fishermen.

Mirka GA; Shin G; Kucera K; Loomis D
Appl Ergon 2005 Jan; 36(1):61-70
Commercial fishing is a job characterized by long hours in an unpredictable, dynamic natural environment and variable demands placed on the musculoskeletal system, requiring strength, coordination, and endurance. The focus of this project was in the quantification of the biomechanical stresses placed on the lumbar spine during the work activities of commercial crab fishermen. The continuous assessment of back stress (CABS) methodology was used to develop distributions describing the amount of time that each of the crew members on a two- or three-man crabbing crew spend at various levels of low back stress. The results of this analysis, expressed in terms of time-weighted histograms, show significant inter and intra-crewmember variability in the stress measures during regular daily work activities. For the three man crew, the captain has relatively low stress levels throughout the work day, while the mate performs high force (up to 30 kg), dynamic exertions while pulling the crab pots from the water up into the boat and high loads (20-40 kg) during the loading and unloading of the boat in the morning and evening, respectively. The third man of the crew experiences static awkward postures (forward flexed postures held for up to 5 min at a time) as he sorts and packs the crabs. For the two-man crew, the results show a more even distribution of the high stress activities between the crewmembers. The application of the results of this analysis for prioritization of work tasks for ergonomic intervention is discussed.
Biomechanics; Fishing-industry; Musculoskeletal-system; Environmental-factors; Back-injuries; Posture; Ergonomics; Muscle-function; Spinal-cord; Stress; Posture; Humans; Accident-prevention; Injury-prevention
Department of Industrial Engineering, North Carolina State University, Box 7906, Raleigh, NC 27695-7906, USA
Publication Date
Document Type
Journal Article
Email Address
Funding Amount
Funding Type
Cooperative Agreement; Grant
Fiscal Year
Identifying No.
Grant-Number-R01-OH-004073; Cooperative-Agreement-Number-U50-OH-007551
Issue of Publication
Priority Area
Disease and Injury: Traumatic Injuries
SIC Code
Source Name
Applied Ergonomics
Performing Organization
University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, North Carolina
Page last reviewed: March 3, 2021
Content source: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Education and Information Division