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Workers developing activities at an aquaculture farm. (Photo: Stock File)

New project seeks to improve aquaculture workers’ health and safety

  (UNITED KINGDOM, 12/21/2017)

A team of experts of the University of Stirling, in Scotland, are developing a new project intended to protect the health of the world’s 18 million aquaculture workers.

The analysis, led by Stirling’s Professor Andrew Watterson, is focusing on global aquaculture and fish farming occupational health and safety issues along the primary supply chain, in marine and freshwater locations.

The report covers diving, construction works – such as the establishment of stock-holding units like ponds, racks and cages – as well as harvesting, processing, and transport of produce.

The new study, funded by the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) of the United Nations, focuses on national and continental profiles from around the world, from Africa to Australasia, and Europe to North America. It follows a decision by the FAO Committee on Fisheries to prioritise occupational safety and health (OSH) issues in aquaculture.

The project, administered by the International Union of Food Workers (IUF), also explores workplace injuries in the sector relating to machinery, tools, boats, vehicles, vehicles, drowning, falls, electrocution and bites.

The experts developing the project point out that occupational diseases are generally under-reported across the world and aquaculture presents many threats to health including those linked to heat and cold, dehydration, work-related neck and upper limb disorders, respiratory problems, allergies, parasites, bacteria from feed, skin issues, and hazards related to ingestion and inhalation. Additional problems have emerged connected to the impact of stress, long hours, evening and night shifts and lone working.

The study also addresses welfare conditions and work-related factors that may contribute to ill-health, such as wages, housing, access to healthcare and transport.

In addition, the team have considered relevant global legislation, including national laws, international codes, labour practice guidance and industry standards.

“Our report aims to set out what works, and what does not, on aquaculture occupational health and safety across the globe and focus on how to improve standards and reduce risks,” stresses Watterson.

The project leader highlights that the report will pick up opportunities and constraints faced by small-scale, rural aquaculture farmers when introducing or improving OSH risk management measures in their farms.
 
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