Ergonomic interventions for commercial crab fishermen
Work tasks in the commercial fishing industry require strength, endurance and coordination and these tasks expose fishermen to many of the recognized risk factors for the development of work-related musculoskeletal disorders. The focus of the current study was the design, development and testing of two simple ergonomic interventions to reduce exposure to these risk factors in small-scale commercial crab fishermen. In a laboratory study of these interventions, EMG and motion analysis systems were used to quantify changes in muscle force and body postures. The results of laboratory evaluation of the intervention designed to reduce the low back stress associated with hoisting the crab pots onboard showed significant reductions in muscle force requirements (erector spinae activity reduced by 25%) and peak sagittal trunk angle (reduced by 34%), while the results of the intervention designed to reduce shoulder stress during the process of shaking the crabs from the pots showed significant reductions in peak deltoid activity (reduced by 24%). A field test of these interventions provided a more subjective “usability” evaluation of the interventions. These responses were cautiously positive, providing insights into when these interventions would be most appropriate and under what conditions they would be more of a hindrance than a help.
Relevance to industry
Engineering controls are recognized as the most effective methods of reducing exposure to risk factors for musculoskeletal injury. Engineering controls were developed for small-scale commercial crab fishermen and these interventions were tested in the laboratory and in the field.