Injuries and Exposure to Time Lobstering in Northeast US Inshore Lobster Fleet

J Agromedicine. 2019 Oct;24(4):333-340. doi: 10.1080/1059924X.2019.1645780. Epub 2019 Jul 29.


Objectives: The study objective was to estimate a denominator of exposure to inshore lobstering in Full-Time Equivalents (FTEs), to count incident injury data from a sample cohort of this population, to use this count to calculate rates for incident injuries, and to use official counts of fatalities to estimate a fatality rate.Methods: Captains were randomly selected from those licensed to fish in Maine and Massachusetts. Data on work exposure and injuries that occurred on the boat were collected using a survey that was administered once per season via phone or face-to-face interview with the captain. Data included self-reports of the number of weeks worked during the season, 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 season. Only data on acute injuries were collected, and defined as having newly occurred within the last 3 months. Counts of fatalities were obtained from an official surveillance database at the National Institute for Occupational Health and Safety.Results: The total occupational exposure reported for the cohort was over 2 million man-hours over 4 years, resulting in an average annual FTE of 5,847. The fatality rate averaged over 4 years was 21/100,000 FTE. The incidence rates for all injuries (51.0/100 FTE) and injuries receiving treatment (17.5/100 FTE) were much higher than those reported in other studies of fishing that used US Coast Guard data. Lobstermen presented with all categories of injuries, sprains being the most frequent (7.8/100 FTE) and amputations the least (0.2/100 FTE). Wrist/hand injuries on the right side occurred most frequently of all body locations (3.6/100 FTE).Conclusion: Non-fatal injuries occur at high rates in lobstering. The impact of interventions aimed at exposure to risk for sprains and cuts has potential to affect the most lobstermen. Fatality rate appears to have been unchanging since the year 2000.

Keywords: Non-fatal injury; cohort; commercial fishing.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Accidents, Occupational / economics
  • Accidents, Occupational / psychology
  • Accidents, Occupational / statistics & numerical data*
  • Adult
  • Animals
  • Cohort Studies
  • Employment
  • Female
  • Fisheries / statistics & numerical data*
  • Humans
  • Interviews as Topic
  • Maine / epidemiology
  • Male
  • Massachusetts / epidemiology
  • Middle Aged
  • Nephropidae / growth & development
  • Occupational Exposure / economics
  • Occupational Exposure / statistics & numerical data*
  • Occupational Health
  • Occupational Injuries / economics
  • Occupational Injuries / epidemiology
  • Occupational Injuries / psychology
  • Time Factors
  • Young Adult