Monday, July 28, 2008

Job safety in the fishing industry and CTS

Fishing is fun when you are doing it for leisure. But like any work, when you have to do it for work and to earn money, then fishing and fish processing does have its vulnerabilities.

Wrist and hand pain are common in the Fishing industry. Processing jobs tend to be far less dangerous than fishing jobs.

A found a web page explaining that in Alaska the most common problems were:
  • cuts, fish and jellyfish poisoning,
  • machinery-related injuries,
  • exhaustion, flu and colds,
  • carpal tunnel syndrome,
  • and alcohol and drug-related problems

I guess, some of these the problems are similiar around the globe. There are lots of jobs in agriculture and the fishing industry where hand pains are a potential threat to the workers health.

Processing work often involves repetitive hand and wrist movements that can result in forearm and wrist pain. At its simplest, the processing industry involves gutting fish. Most industry employees use knives to do this; more than a few cut themselves. The best ways to avoid cuts are to pay close attention to what you're doing and to wear protective gloves.

If you do cut yourself, bring it to the attention of your supervisor immediately. The carpal tunnel syndrome is another matter. How well do employees and the management know about CTS? What could be done to avoid it? Are workers in the processing industry screened or tested to find hand and wrist problems at an early stage?

Diagnostics of CTS

There are no international golden standard criteria for diagnosing CTS. Typically, the diagnosis is made based on each patient’s typical symptoms, clinical findings, and neurophysiological tests.

In Finland, neurophysiological tests are always done before deciding on surgery. ENMG test for suspected CTS cases is the most common or the second most common single test in both public and private laboratories (20-40% of all EMG tests).

Agricultural Safety and Health Program

In United States, the Maine Agricultural Safety and Health Program performed a needs assessment to determine the health and safety concerns of Maine's fishing community.

Information for the assessment was obtained from clinicians, focus groups of wives of fishers, and government agencies. Recommendations include, in part,
  • increasing surveillance,
  • reducing barriers to access,
  • increasing clinicians' knowledge about the fishing industry, and
  • fostering collaboration between agencies providing health and safety information to fishers.


Hand and wrist problems and fatigues are common complaints among processing workers. For most people the discomfort is mild and only temporary, but for a few it can develop into a more persistent and painful malady called carpal tunnel syndrome.

The symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome are pain in the wrist, which may seem to shoot up into the forearm or the palm of the hand, and numbness or tingling in the fingers and hand.

The pain is caused by swelling of the tendons and other tissue surrounding the main nerve serving the hand. Left untreated, it can become a serious problem. If you experience excessive pain in your wrists notify your supervisor.

Often people can use wrist braces which alleviate the strain on your hands, or you can be shifted to a job requiring less stress on their limbs. If the problem persists the employee should seek medical treatment, since left untreated carpal tunnel syndrome can cause permanent damage.

I found a Journal of Agromedicine

The Journal of Agromedicine examines evolving trends in emerging biotechnology and the globalization of agriculture, and the resulting political/economic effects of these trends upon the agricultural workforce and rural communities. Topics of special interest examined in the journal include:
  • occupational health and safety issues in agriculture
  • zoonotic and emerging diseases
  • food safety
  • health education strategies
  • public health
The impact of these changes upon the health and safety of the agricultural workforce, rural communities, and consumers of agricultural products are discussed in this journal.

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