Inherently Safer Aquacultural Work: Hierarchical Hazard Controls
- Melvin L. Myers (University of Kentucky College of Public Health) | Robert M. Durborow (Kentucky State University) | Henry P. Cole (University of Kentucky College of Public Health)
- Document ID
- American Society of Safety Engineers
- Professional Safety
- Publication Date
- July 2012
- Document Type
- Journal Paper
- 44 - 51
- 2012. American Society of Safety Engineers
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- 43 since 2007
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In January 2011, a trout farm manager in Kentucky lost his life when he became entangled in a power-take-off connected to a posthole digger ("Green County man," 2011). He was constructing a fence on the farm. Later, in May 2011, an experienced diver drowned while tending fish cages offshore under about 120 ft of water for a large aqua-culture farm in Hawaii (Shikina, 2011). OSHA is investigating that fatality.
These fatalities are but two examples of the many varied dangers associated with fish farming. The first was a fish farm manager working onshore, while the second victim was an employee of a mari-culture operation working offshore. Even hobby farmers are taking up aquaculture (Morgan, 2011). The myriad of dangers within this emerging sector demand countermeasures to reduce or eliminate occupational hazards, and farmers have innovated to prevent or mitigate these risks.
Fishing and gathering deplete the resources of the wild aquatic environments because of a growing world population and ever-more-efficient fish capturing technology. This depletion of wild fish has led to farming the waters to maximize the out-put of aquatic environments—a modern day Neo-lithic Revolution similar to the shift from hunting and gathering to terrestrial farming.
Worldwide, nearly 11.3 million people worked in aquaculture in 2004—up almost three-fold from 3,832,000 workers in 1990 (Watterson, Little, Young, et al., 2008). Aquaculture is a potentially fast-growing sector of U.S. agriculture but it presents unaddressed safety and health issues to workers. This growth is at the heart of this investigation; intervening early in an emerging industry ensures that best safety practices are established as part of the business from the start by displacing potentially unsafe habits which otherwise may become en-grained within the industry’s culture (Myers, 2005).
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