The objective of this study was to inform efforts to reduce risk for musculoskeletal disorders among commercial lobstermen by characterizing and quantifying injuries that occur to people while harvesting lobsters commercially in the Northeast United States. This study aimed to estimate a denominator of exposure to lobstering in full-time equivalents (FTE), to estimate a fatality rate, and to calculate incidence rates for acute injuries within the sample population. Captains were randomly selected from those licensed to fish in Maine and Massachusetts. Data on work exposure and injuries with rapid onset that occurred on the boat ("acute injuries") were collected using a survey, which was administered quarterly via phone or face-to-face interview with the captain. The quarterly survey assessed the number of weeks worked during the quarter, average crew size, number of trips per week, and average trip length in hours. In addition, this survey captured relevant information (body segment affected, type of injury, and whether treatment was received) on all acute injuries occurring during the quarter. FTE were estimated using fishermen days and fishermen hours. The annual FTE estimated using days was 2,557 and using hours was 2,855. As expected, the summer months (3rd quarter) had the highest FTE and the winter (1st quarter) the lowest FTE. Fall (4th quarter) and spring (2nd quarter) ranked second and third, respectively. The incidence rates for all injuries (49.7/100 FTE) and injuries requiring treatment (15.0/100 FTE) were much higher than those reported in other studies of fishing that used Coast Guard data.
Keywords: Ergonomics; exposure; fishing; injuries; safety.