Session 4D – Prevention of Chronic Injury and Illness

Monday, June 11, 3:30pm – 5:00pm, Arts and Administration Building, Room A1043

4D.1  An innovative design solution to mitigate noise levels on fishing vesselsMd. Mahmudul Hasan, Jacopo Fragasso, Lorenzo Moro, Memorial University of Newfoundland (Presentation slides).

Noise exposure is a relevant concern among fish harvesters because of the high levels of noise on board fishing vessels, causing an unsafe work environment. Prolonged noise exposure causes hearing loss, and decreases the performance and vigilance of fish harvesters during fishing operations. In order to mitigate noise and vibration generated by on board sources, a proper design of the insulation system and ship structural dynamics has to be carried out. This can be performed considering both paths of transmission of acoustic energy on ships: airborne noise and structure borne noise. Application of viscoelastic materials (VEM) to the ship structures is one of the most effective measures to reduce structure borne noise. Damping properties (such as loss factor and damping ratio) and location of the VEM application are important design parameters, because of the influence on the level of mitigation. In this presentation, examples of the applications of VEM will be discussed. The recent results of an ongoing research activity on the characterization of VEM for marine applications will be presented. An experimental analysis of vibration damping characteristics of a set of composite aluminum beams on where VEM are applied is performed, considering free layer damping (FLD) and constrained layer damping (CLD) configurations and different thickness values. Two different experimental procedures will be compared. The outcome of this experimental activity can be used to identify a proper vibration damping model to simulate the damping effect of the VEM applied to the ship structures. This model allows the designers to identify critical situations and develop effective solutions in the early design phase of a fishing vessel, by optimizing the VEM application to the ship structures.


4D.2  Noise exposures of fish harvesters in Newfoundland and LabradorGiorgio Burella, Lorenzo Moro, and Barbara Neis, Memorial University (Presentation slides).

In the Newfoundland and Labrador fishing industry in Atlantic Canada, one of the main sources of employment in rural areas of the province, an important current concern within the workers’ compensation system, among regulators and within the industry is the relatively large proportion of compensation claims for noise-induced hearing loss in the sector and some preliminary evidence that noise levels on fishing vessels may exceed regulatory limits. The Newfoundland and Labrador Fish Harvesting Safety Association (NL-FHSA), which includes representatives from these and other groups is partnering with Memorial University’s Faculty of Engineering through the SafetyNet Centre for Occupational Health and Safety Research to assess noise exposures on board small scale (<65 foot) fishing vessels and to identify short and long-term strategies to reduce exposures where these exceed regulatory limits.  The research design includes assessing noise exposures during fishing trips on a sample of at least 20 vessels of different lengths and designs and engaged in different fisheries and to use these samples to assess cumulative exposures. Measurements of sound pressure noise levels are being taken by using noise dosimeters and hand-held microphones to register the time signal of sound pressure in various vessel spaces. These findings, coupled with observations of fishing activities are the basis for two studies: one studying the influence of the activities and fishing operations on the overall noise exposures of workers and a second of the noise sources, their frequency domain content in order to generate insights into the noise transmission patterns through the vessel’s structure, using the signal processing of the time signals. The latter study will allow the researchers to identify design solutions to mitigate noise levels on the next generation of fishing vessels. This presentation will provide 2017-2018 findings from these two studies and provide an outline of work remaining to be done and the relevance of the findings for wider knowledge about noise and NIHL in similar small scale fisheries.


4D.3  Chronic health risks in a sample of commercial fishermen in Alaska:  A cross-sectional analysisDebra Cherry and Carly Miller, University of Washington School of Public Health; Torie Baker, Alaska Sea Grant, University of Alaska Fairbanks (Presentation slides).

Background: Fishermen are exposed to many chronic health risks including noise, ultraviolet (UV) radiation, long and irregular work hours, and physical strain. In addition, the workforce is aging, with a growing percentage of fishermen age 55 or older.

Objectives: The purpose of this study is to evaluate chronic health risks before and during fishing season in a sample of drift gillnet commercial fishermen, which addresses the NIOSH priority of Total Worker HealthTM.

Methods: Gillnet license holders in Cordova, Alaska (n=607) were contacted and asked to participate in a preseason survey during March to mid-May assessing health behaviors. A mid-season survey during mid-May to September was also conducted. Physical exams and additional assessments were performed on a subset of these fishermen during July (mid-season).

Results: Sixty-six fishermen participated in the preseason survey and 38 participated in the midseason survey. The study population was overwhelmingly white males with an average age of 49. The average BMI was 27 with 70% of the participants overweight or obese. Nearly 80% of the sample considered their health good or better. Participants reported longer working hours, less sleep, and less aerobic exercise during the fishing season (p<.05). FitBitTM monitoring (n=8) confirmed less sleep and fewer steps during fishing season. On exam (n=20), 80% of participants showed measured hearing loss at 4kz (conversation range), and 70% had one or more upper extremity disorders, including 40% with rotator cuff tendonitis.

Conclusions: The prevalence of hearing loss, upper extremity disorders, and sleep apnea risk factors were higher than in the general population both before and during fishing season. Occupational factors including exposure to noise, the upper extremity demands of gillnetting, and long working hours while fishing exacerbate these chronic health conditions. Health promotion programs targeted towards these conditions may present opportunities for improving total worker health.


4D.4  Fishing for information: Scoping for opportunities to prevent musculoskeletal disorders on New Zealand’s large fishing vesselsMarion Edwin, Optimise Ltd. and Darren Guard, Guard Safety Limited (Presentation slides).

New Zealand’s fishing industry has consistently high rates of work-related injury and is one of five ‘top priority’ industry sectors targeted for health and safety improvement. New Zealand fishing has an established industry health and safety forum and an increasing commitment by key fishing companies to health and safety.

Kahler and Chau (2012) identified human and gravitational energy as cause for 58% of injuries sustained on <24 metre (New Zealand) fishing vessels, suggesting the need to address manual handling/ergonomics issues. Further review showed that vessels of >24 metres (just 7% of the national fleet) were responsible for a disproportionate 68% of serious harm injuries.

An ergonomist was engaged by ACC (New Zealand’s accident compensation and rehabilitation agency) in 2013 to determine opportunities to address the high musculoskeletal injury rate. The ‘ergonomics scoping assessment’ occurred on >24 metre factory and fresher vessels to gain an understanding of the difficult-to-access work environment and the work demands for fishers. Key findings from the ‘ergonomics scoping assessment’ included injury contributors including poor workplace design, shift-work and related fatigue, vessel motion, dehydration, psychosocial factors, poor fitness, task training, and fishing companies with poor knowledge of the nature of these hazards. A number of research and intervention opportunities were identified to address the high injury toll in the New Zealand fishing industry with some promising initial feedback.

Practitioner Summary: A range of factors contribute to musculoskeletal injury risks on fishing vessels. Fishing companies may have poor understanding of the nature of the hazards and the strategies to address these, though the rewards may be considerable. There is opportunity to more effectively prevent and manage musculoskeletal health risks for fishers.


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