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SAFETY Figure 1: Feed trucks eliminate the need for handling feed.

on aquaculture farms

by Robert M Durborow, Professor and Aquaculture Specialist, Kentucky State University, and Melvin L. Myers, Associate Professor and Safety Engineer, Emory University Rollins School of Public Health, Atlanta


quaculture has many hazards that are expected when agriculture in an aquatic environment is performed. Avoiding injury maintains aquaculturists’ health and quality of life as well as their economic security. Injury can be costly due to lost work hours, medical expenses and possible lawsuits, so maintaining safe working conditions on fish farms has multiple benefits.

Figure 2: This hydraulic feeding system runs feed from the feed bin through a pipe out to chambers located above the raceway water. This feeding mechanization eliminates much of the labour, repetitive motion and muscle strain involved when feeding is done manually.

Occupational safety survey research performed in the US (Melvin Myers, Robert Durborow, Henry Cole, Tiffany Ogunsanya, et al. from 1997 to 2012 – see below) and the U.K. (Durborow and Gomelsky, unpublished, presented at the U.S. Trout Farmers Association annual meeting, Denver, Colorado in September 2012) identified twelve potential hazard categories present on aquaculture farms: muscle strains, falls, entanglement, drowning, electrocutions, working in confined spaces, equipment overturns, chemical exposures, impalement, self-injections, dark working conditions and lack of emergency communication. In safety studies, the old adage of “being careful” is considered the least advanced of injury prevention intervention, avoiding the hazardous behavior is a bit more advanced while engineering the work environment to eliminate the hazard is considered the most advanced intervention.

Muscle strains

Figure 3: The two pulleys above this dip net reduce the load weight by a half, and the whole net system can slide on a metal track (where the blue scale is) to the end of the tank for unloading.

A common muscle strain occurs in the lower back region, often caused by lifting and carrying heavy loads. Leg muscles rather than back muscles should be used primarily to lift heavy weights and twisting (turning the upper body independent of the lower body) while holding a heavy load should be avoided. A fish production facility in the US found that if workers carry smaller, more manageable loads of fish in nets, they avoid muscle strains, increase the speed of transferring fish between tanks, and avoid inadvertently dropping fish out of overloaded nets onto the floor (which not only stresses the fish but slows down the fishmoving process). In the effort to increase fish farm safety, one could

002 | INTERNATIONAL AQUAFEED | Fish Farming Technology

Mar | Apr 2015 - International Aquafeed magazine  
Mar | Apr 2015 - International Aquafeed magazine  

The March - April 2015 edition of International Aquafeed magazine