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64. Agriculture and Natural Resources Based Industries

64. Agriculture and Natural Resources Based Industries (34)

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64. Agriculture and Natural Resources Based Industries

Chapter Editor: Melvin L. Myers

Table of Contents

Tables and Figures

General Profile
Melvin L. Myers

     Case Study: Family Farms
     Ted Scharf, David E. Baker and Joyce Salg

Farming  Systems

Melvin L. Myers and I.T. Cabrera

Migrant and Seasonal Farmworkers
Marc B. Schenker

Urban Agriculture
Melvin L. Myers

Greenhouse and Nursery Operations
Mark M. Methner and John A. Miles

Samuel H. Henao

Farmworker Education about Pesticides: A Case Study
Merri Weinger

Planting and Growing Operations
Yuri Kundiev and V.I. Chernyuk

Harvesting Operations
William E. Field

Storing and Transportation Operations
Thomas L. Bean

Manual Operations in Farming
Pranab Kumar Nag

Dennis Murphy

     Case Study: Agricultural Machinery
     L. W. Knapp, Jr.

Food  and Fibre Crops

Malinee Wongphanich

Agricultural Grains and Oilseeds
Charles Schwab

Sugar Cane Cultivation and Processing
R.A. Munoz, E.A. Suchman, J.M. Baztarrica and Carol J. Lehtola

Potato Harvesting
Steven Johnson

Vegetables and Melons
B.H. Xu and Toshio Matsushita   

Tree,  Bramble and Vine Crops

Berries and Grapes
William E. Steinke

Orchard Crops
Melvin L. Myers

Tropical Tree and Palm Crops
Melvin L. Myers

Bark and Sap Production
Melvin L. Myers

Bamboo and Cane
Melvin L. Myers and Y.C. Ko

Specialty  Crops

Tobacco Cultivation
Gerald F. Peedin

Ginseng, Mint and Other Herbs
Larry J. Chapman

L.J.L.D. Van Griensven

Aquatic Plants
Melvin L. Myers and J.W.G. Lund

Beverage Crops

Coffee Cultivation
Jorge da Rocha Gomes and Bernardo Bedrikow

Tea Cultivation
L.V.R. Fernando

Thomas Karsky and William B. Symons

Health  and Environmental Issues

Health Problems and Disease Patterns in Agriculture
Melvin L. Myers

     Case Study: Agromedicine
     Stanley H. Schuman and Jere A. Brittain

Environmental and Public Health Issues in Agriculture
Melvin L. Myers


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1. Sources of nutrients
2. Ten steps for a plantation work risk survey
3. Farming systems in urban areas
4. Safety advice for lawn & garden equipment
5. Categorization of farm activities
6. Common tractor hazards & how they occur
7. Common machinery hazards & where they occur
8. Safety precautions
9. Tropical & subtropical trees, fruits & palms
10. Palm products
11. Bark & sap products & uses
12. Respiratory hazards
13. Dermatological hazards
14. Toxic & neoplastic hazards
15. Injury hazards
16. Lost time injuries, United States, 1993
17. Mechanical & thermal stress hazards
18. Behavioural hazards
19. Comparison of two agromedicine programmes
20. Genetically engineered crops
21. Illicit drug cultivation, 1987, 1991 & 1995


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65. Beverage Industry

65. Beverage Industry (10)

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65. Beverage Industry

Chapter Editor: Lance A. Ward

Table of Contents

Tables and Figures

General Profile
David Franson

Soft Drink Concentrate Manufacturing
Zaida Colon

Soft Drink Bottling and Canning
Matthew Hirsheimer

Coffee Industry
Jorge da Rocha Gomes and Bernardo Bedrikow

Tea Industry
Lou Piombino

Distilled Spirits Industry
R.G. Aldi and Rita Seguin

Wine Industry
Alvaro Durao

Brewing Industry
J.F. Eustace

Health and Environmental Concerns
Lance A. Ward


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1. Selected coffee importers (in tonnes)


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66. Fishing

66. Fishing (10)

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66. Fishing

Chapter Editors: Hulda Ólafsdóttir and Vilhjálmur Rafnsson

Table of Contents

Tables and Figures

General Profile
Ragnar Arnason

     Case Study: Indigenous Divers
     David Gold

Major Sectors and Processes
Hjálmar R. Bárdarson

Psychosocial Characteristics of the Workforce at Sea
Eva Munk-Madsen

     Case Study: Fishing Women

Psychosocial Characteristics of the Workforce in On-Shore Fish Processing
Marit Husmo

Social Effects of One-Industry Fishery Villages
Barbara Neis

Health Problems and Disease Patterns
Vilhjálmur Rafnsson

Musculoskeletal Disorders Among Fishermen and Workers in the Fish Processing Industry
Hulda Ólafsdóttir

Commercial Fisheries: Environmental and Public Health Issues
Bruce McKay and Kieran Mulvaney


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1. Mortality figures on fatal injuries among fishermen
2. The most important jobs or places related to risk of injuries


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67. Food Industry

67. Food Industry (11)

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67. Food Industry

Chapter Editor: Deborah E. Berkowitz

Table of Contents

Tables and Figures

Overview and Health Effects

Food Industry Processes
M. Malagié, G. Jensen, J.C. Graham and Donald L. Smith

Health Effects and Disease Patterns
John J. Svagr

Environmental Protection and Public Health Issues
Jerry Spiegel

Food Processing Sectors

Deborah E. Berkowitz and Michael J. Fagel

Poultry Processing
Tony Ashdown

Dairy Products Industry
Marianne Smukowski and Norman Brusk

Cocoa Production and the Chocolate Industry
Anaide Vilasboas de Andrade

Grain, Grain Milling and Grain-Based Consumer Products
Thomas E. Hawkinson, James J. Collins and Gary W. Olmstead

R.F. Villard

Sugar-Beet Industry
Carol J. Lehtola

Oil and Fat
N.M. Pant


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1. The food industries, their raw materials & processes
2. Common occupational diseases in the food & drink industries
3. Types of infections reported in food & drink industries
4. Examples of uses for by-products from the food industry
5. Typical water reuse ratios for different industry sub-sectors


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68. Forestry

68. Forestry (17)

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68. Forestry

Chapter Editor: Peter Poschen

Table of Contents

Tables and Figures

General Profile
Peter Poschen

Wood Harvesting
Dennis Dykstra and Peter Poschen

Timber Transport
Olli Eeronheimo

Harvesting of Non-wood Forest Products
Rudolf Heinrich

Tree Planting
Denis Giguère

Forest Fire Management and Control
Mike Jurvélius

Physical Safety Hazards
Bengt Pontén

Physical Load
Bengt Pontén

Psychosocial Factors
Peter Poschen and Marja-Liisa Juntunen

Chemical Hazards
Juhani Kangas

Biological Hazards among Forestry Workers
Jörg Augusta

Rules, Legislation, Regulations and Codes of Forest Practices
Othmar Wettmann

Personal Protective Equipment
Eero Korhonen

Working Conditions and Safety in Forestry Work
Lucie Laflamme and Esther Cloutier

Skills and Training
Peter Poschen

Living Conditions
Elías Apud

Environmental Health Issues
Shane McMahon


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1. Forest area by region (1990)
2. Non-wood forest product categories & examples
3. Non-wood harvesting hazards & examples
4. Typical load carried while planting
5. Grouping of tree-planting accidents by body parts affected
6. Energy expenditure in forestry work
7. Chemicals used in forestry in Europe & North America in the 1980s
8. Selection of infections common in forestry
9. Personal protective equipment appropriate for forestry operations
10. Potential benefits to environmental health


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69. Hunting

69. Hunting (2)

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69. Hunting

Chapter Editor: George A. Conway

Table of Contents


A Profile of Hunting and Trapping in the 1990s
John N. Trent

Diseases Associated with Hunting and Trapping
Mary E. Brown


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1. Examples of diseases potentially significant to hunters & trappers

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70. Livestock Rearing

70. Livestock Rearing (21)

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70. Livestock Rearing

Chapter Editor: Melvin L. Myers

Table of Contents

Tables and Figures

Livestock Rearing: Its Extent and Health Effects
Melvin L. Myers

Health Problems and Disease Patterns
Kendall Thu, Craig Zwerling and Kelley Donham

     Case Study: Arthopod-related Occupational Health Problems
     Donald Barnard

Forage Crops
Lorann Stallones

Livestock Confinement
Kelley Donham

Animal Husbandry
Dean T. Stueland and Paul D. Gunderson

     Case Study: Animal Behaviour
     David L. Hard

Manure and Waste Handling
William Popendorf

     A Checklist for Livestock Rearing Safety Practice
     Melvin L. Myers

John May

Cattle, Sheep and Goats
Melvin L. Myers

Melvin L. Myers

Poultry and Egg Production
Steven W. Lenhart

     Case Study: Poultry Catching, Live Hauling and Processing
     Tony Ashdown

Horses and Other Equines
Lynn Barroby

     Case Study: Elephants
     Melvin L. Myers

Draught Animals in Asia
D.D. Joshi

Bull Raising
David L. Hard

Pet, Furbearer and Laboratory Animal Production
Christian E. Newcomer

Fish Farming and Aquaculture
George A. Conway and Ray RaLonde

Beekeeping, Insect Raising and Silk Production
Melvin L. Myers and Donald Barnard


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1. Livestock uses
2. International livestock production (1,000 tonnes)
3. Annual US livestock faeces & urine production
4. Types of human health problems associated with livestock
5. Primary zoonoses by world region
6. Different occupations & health & safety
7. Potential arthropod hazards in the workplace
8. Normal & allergic reactions to insect sting
9. Compounds identified in swine confinement
10. Ambient levels of various gases in swine confinement
11. Respiratory diseases associated with swine production
12. Zoonotic diseases of livestock handlers
13. Physical properties of manure
14. Some important toxicologic benchmarks for hydrogen sulphide
15. Some safety procedures related to manure spreaders
16. Types of ruminants domesticated as livestock
17. Livestock rearing processes & potential hazards
18. Respiratory illnesses from exposures on livestock farms
19. Zoonoses associated with horses
20. Normal draught power of various animals


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71. Lumber

71. Lumber (4)

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71. Lumber

Chapter Editors: Paul Demers and Kay Teschke

Table of Contents

Tables and Figures

General Profile
Paul Demers

Major Sectors and Processes: Occupational Hazards and Controls
Hugh Davies, Paul Demers, Timo Kauppinen and Kay Teschke

Disease and Injury Patterns
Paul Demers

Environmental and Public Health Issues
Kay Teschke and Anya Keefe


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1. Estimated wood production in 1990
2. Estimated production of lumber for the 10 largest world producers
3. OHS hazards by lumber industry process area


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72. Paper and Pulp Industry

72. Paper and Pulp Industry (13)

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72. Paper and Pulp Industry

Chapter Editors: Kay Teschke and Paul Demers

Table of Contents

Tables and Figures

General Profile
Kay Teschke

Major Sectors and Processes

Fibre Sources for Pulp and Paper
Anya Keefe and Kay Teschke

Wood Handling
Anya Keefe and Kay Teschke

Anya Keefe, George Astrakianakis and Judith Anderson

George Astrakianakis and Judith Anderson

Recycled Paper Operations
Dick Heederik

Sheet Production and Converting: Market Pulp, Paper, Paperboard
George Astrakianakis and Judith Anderson

Power Generation and Water Treatment
George Astrakianakis and Judith Anderson

Chemical and By-product Production
George Astrakianakis and Judith Anderson

Occupational Hazards and Controls
Kay Teschke, George Astrakianakis, Judith Anderson, Anya Keefe and Dick Heederik

Disease and Injury Patterns

Injuries and Non-malignant Diseases
Susan Kennedy and Kjell Torén

Kjell Torén and Kay Teschke

Environmental and Public Health Issues
Anya Keefe and Kay Teschke


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1. Employment & production in selected countries (1994)
2. Chemical constituents of pulp & paper fibre sources
3. Bleaching agents & their conditions of use
4. Papermaking additives
5. Potential health & safety hazards by process area
6. Studies on lung & stomach cancer, lymphoma & leukaemia
7. Suspensions & biological oxygen demand in pulping


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Thursday, 10 March 2011 16:42

Case Study: Indigenous Divers

Indigenous peoples living in coastal areas have for centuries depended on the sea for their survival. In the more tropical waters they have not only fished from traditional boats but also engaged in spear fishing and shell gathering activities, diving either from shore or from boats. The waters in the past were plentiful and there was no need to dive deeply for long periods of time. More recently the situation has changed. Overfishing and the destruction of breeding grounds has made it impossible for indigenous peoples to sustain themselves. Many have turned to diving deeper for longer periods of time in order to bring home a sufficient catch. As the capacity of humans to stay underwater without some form of support is quite limited, indigenous divers in several parts of the world have begun using compressors to supply air from the surface or to use self-contained underwater breathing apparatus (SCUBA) to extend the amount of time that they are able to stay underwater (bottom time).

In the developing world, indigenous divers are found in Central and South America, Southeast Asia and the Pacific. It has been estimated by the University of California at Berkeley, Department of Geography’s Ocean Conservation and Environmental Action Network (OCEAN) Initiative, that there may be as many as 30,000 working indigenous divers in Central America, South America and the Caribbean. (It is estimated that the Moskito Indians in Central America may have a diving population as high as 450 divers.) Researchers at the Divers Diseases Research Centre of the United Kingdom estimate that in the Philippines there may be between 15,000 to 20,000 indigenous divers; in Indonesia the number has yet to be determined but it may be as many as 10,000.

In Southeast Asia some indigenous divers use compressors on boats with air lines or hoses attached to the divers. The compressors are normally commercial type compressors used in filling stations or are compressors salvaged from large trucks and driven by gasoline or diesel engines. Depths may range to more than 90 m and dives may exceed durations of 2 hours. Indigenous divers work to gather fish and shellfish for human consumption, aquaria fish, seashells for the tourist industry, pearl oysters and, at certain times of the year, sea cucumbers. Their fishing techniques include using underwater fish traps, spear fishing and pounding two stones together to drive fish into a net down current. Lobsters, crabs and shellfish are gathered by hand (see figure 1).

Figure 1. An indigenous diver gathering fish.


David Gold

The indigenous Sea Gypsy Divers of Thailand

In Thailand there are approximately 400 divers using compressors and living on the west coast. They are known as Sea Gypsies and were once a nomadic people that have settled in 12 rather permanent villages in three provinces. They are literate and almost all have completed compulsory education. Virtually all of the divers speak Thai and most speak their own language, Pasa Chaaw Lee, which is an unwritten Malay language.

Only males dive, starting as young as 12 years of age and stopping, if they survive, around the age of 50. They dive from open boats, ranging from 3 to 11 m in length. The compressors used are powered by either a gasoline or a diesel powered motor and are primitive, cycling unfiltered air into a pressure tank and down 100 m of hose to a diver. This practice of using ordinary air compressors without filtration can lead to contamination of breathing air with carbon monoxide, nitrogen dioxide from diesel motors, lead from leaded gasoline and combustion particulates. The hose is attached to a normal diving mask which covers the eyes and nose. Inspiration and expiration is done through the nose, with the expired air escaping from the skirt of the mask. The only protection from marine life and the temperature of the water is a roll collar, a long sleeve shirt, a pair of plastic shoes and a pair of athletic style trousers. A pair of cotton mesh gloves offers the hands a certain degree of protection (see figure 2).

Figure 2.  A diver off of Phuket, Thailand, preparing to dive from an open boat.


David Gold

A research project was developed in concert with Thailand’s Ministry of Public Health to study the diving practices of the Sea Gypsies and to develop educational and informational interventions to raise the divers’ awareness of the risks they face and measures that can be taken to reduce those risks. As part of this project 334 divers were interviewed by trained public health care workers in 1996 and 1997. The response rate to the questionnaires was over 90%. Although the survey data are still under analysis, several points have been extracted for this case study.

Regarding diving practices, 54% of the divers were asked how many dives they made on their last day of diving. Of the 310 divers that responded to the question, 54% indicated that they made less than 4 dives; 35% indicated 4 to 6 dives and 11% indicated 7 or more dives.

When asked about the depth of their first dive of their last day of diving, of the 307 divers who responded to this question, 51% indicated 18 m or less; 38% indicated between 18 and 30 m; 8% indicated between 30 and 40 m; 2% indicated more than 40 m, with one diver reporting a dive at a depth of 80 m. A 16 year-old diver in one village reported that he had performed 20 dives on his last day of diving to depths of less than 10 m. Since he has been diving he has been struck 3 times by decompression sickness.

A high frequency of dives, deep depths, long bottom times and short surface intervals are factors which can increase the risk of decompression sickness.


An early random sampling of the survey revealed that the 3 most significant risks included an interruption of the air supply leading to an emergency ascent, injury from marine life and decompression sickness.

Unlike sport or professional divers, the indigenous diver has no alternative air supply. A cut, crimped or separated air hose leaves only two options. The first is to find a fellow diver and share air from one mask, a skill which is virtually unknown to the Sea Gypsies; the second is an emergency swim to the surface, which can and frequently does lead to barotrauma (injury related to rapidly reducing pressure) and decompression sickness (caused by expanding nitrogen gas bubbles in the blood and tissue as the diver surfaces). When asked about separation from diving partners during working dives, of the 331 divers who responded to the question, 113 (34%) indicated that they worked 10 m or more away from their partners and an additional 24 indicated that they were not concerned about the whereabouts of partners during dives. The research project is currently instructing the divers how to share air from one mask while encouraging them to dive closer together.

Since indigenous divers are frequently working with dead or injured marine life, there is always the potential that a hungry predator may also attack the indigenous diver. The diver may also be handling poisonous marine animals, thus increasing the risk of illness or injury.

Regarding decompression sickness, 83% of divers said they considered pain as part of the job; 34% indicated they had recovered from decompression sickness, and 44% of those had had decompression sickness 3 or more times.

An occupational health intervention

On the implementation side of this project, 16 health care workers at the village level along with 3 Sea Gypsies have been taught to be trainers. Their task is to work with the divers on a boat-by-boat basis using short (15 minute) interventions to raise the awareness of the divers about the risks they face; give the divers the knowledge and skills to reduce those risks; and develop emergency procedures to assist sick or injured divers. The train-the-trainer workshop developed 9 rules, a short lesson plan for each rule and an information sheet to use as a handout.

The rules are as follows:

    1. The deepest dive should be first, with each subsequent dive shallower.
    2. The deepest part of any dive should come first, followed by work in shallower water.
    3. A safety stop on ascent at 5 m after every deep dive is mandatory.
    4. Come up slowly from every dive.
    5. Allow a minimum of one hour on the surface between deep dives.
    6. Drink large amounts of water before and after each dive.
    7. Stay within sight of another diver.
    8. Never hold your breath.
    9. Always display the international dive flag whenever there are divers underwater.


                    The Sea Gypsies were born and raised next to or on the sea. They depend on the sea for their existence. Although they are sickened or injured as a result of their diving practices they continue to dive. The interventions listed above will probably not stop the Sea Gypsies from diving, but they will make them aware of the risk they face and provide them the means to reduce this risk.



                    Thursday, 10 March 2011 15:26

                    Tropical Tree and Palm Crops

                    Some text was revised from the articles “Date palms”, by D. Abed; “Raffia” and “Sisal”, by E. Arreguin Velez; “Copra”, by A.P. Bulengo; “Kapok”, by U. Egtasaeng; “Coconut cultivation”, by L.V.R. Fernando; “Bananas”, by Y. Ko; “Coir”, by P.V.C. Pinnagoda; and “Oil palms”, by G.O. Sofoluwe from the 3rd edition of this “Encyclopaedia”.

                    Although archaeological evidence is inconclusive, tropical forest trees transplanted to the village may have been the first domesticated agricultural crops. More than 200 fruit tree species have been identified in the humid tropics. Several of these trees and palms, such as the banana and coconut, are cultivated in smallholdings, cooperatives or plantations. While the date palm is completely domesticated, other species, such as the Brazil nut, are still harvested in the wild. More than 150 varieties of bananas and 2,500 palm species exist around the world, and they provide a broad range of products for human use. Sago palm wood feeds millions of people around the world. The coconut palm is used in more than 1,000 ways and the palmyra palm in more than 800 ways. About 400,000 people depend on the coconut for their entire livelihood. Several trees, fruits and palms of the tropical and semitropical zones of the world are listed in table 1, and table 2 shows selected commercial palms or palm types and their products.

                    Table 1. Commercial tropical and subtropical trees, fruits and palms



                    Tropical and semitropical fruits (excluding citrus)

                    Figs, banana, jelly palm, loquat, papaya, guava, mango, kiwis, date, cherimoya, white sapota, durian, breadfruit, Surinam cherry, lychee, olive, carambola, carob, chocolate, loquat, avocado, sapodilla, japoticaba, pomegranate, pineapple

                    Semitropical citrus fruits

                    Orange, grapefruit, lime, lemon, tangerine, tangelos, calamondins, kumquats, citrons

                    Tropical nut trees

                    Cashew, Brazil, almond, pine, and macadamia nuts

                    Oil crops

                    Oil palm, olive, coconut

                    Insect feed

                    Mulberry leaf (silkworm feed), decaying sago palm pith (grub feed)

                    Fibre crops

                    Kapok, sisal, hemp, coir (coconut husk), raffia palm, piassaba palm, palmyra palm, fishtail palm


                    Sago palm

                    Vanilla bean

                    Vanilla orchid


                     Table 2. Palm products





                    Nut meat

                    Copra (desiccated meat)

                    Nut water

                    Nut shells

                    Coir (husk)



                    Flower nectar inflorescence

                    Food, copra, animal feed

                    Food, oil, oilsoap, candle, cooking oil, margarine, cosmetics, detergent, pai, coconut milk, cream, jam

                    Fuel, charcoal, bowls, scoops, cups

                    Mats, string, potting soil mix, brush, rope, cordage

                    Thatching, weaving


                    Palm honey

                    Palm sugar, alcohol, arrack (palm spirits)




                    Dry, sweet and fine dates

                    Date sugar

                    African oil

                    Fruit (palm pulp oil; similar to olive oil)

                    Seeds (palm kernel oil)

                    Cosmetics, margarine, dressing, fuel, lubricants

                    Soap, glycerine



                    Petioles and leaf sheaths


                    Fruit and seeds

                    Sap, roots

                    Paper, shelter, weaving, fans, buckets, caps

                    Carpets, rope, twine, brooms, brushes

                    Timber, sago, cabbage

                    Food, fruit pulp, starch, buttons

                    Sugar, wine, alcohol, vinegar, sura (raw sap drink)

                    Food, diuretic

                    Sago (trunk pith of various species)


                    Insect feed

                    Meals, gruels, puddings, bread, flour

                    Food (grubs feeding on decayed sago pith)

                    Cabbage (various species)

                    Apical bud (upper trunk)

                    Salads, canned palm hearts or palmito



                    Plaiting, baskets work, tying material

                    Sugar (various species)

                    Palm sap

                    Palm sugar (gur, jaggery)



                    Candles, lipsticks, shoe polish, car polish, floor wax

                    Rattan cane



                    Betel nut

                    Fruit (nut)

                    Stimulant (betel chewing)



                    The agriculture of tropical tree and palm growing includes propagation, cultivation, harvesting and post-harvesting processes.

                    Propagation of tropical trees and palms can be sexual or asexual. Sexual techniques are needed to produce fruit; pollination is critical. The date palm is doecious, and pollen from the male palm must be dispersed upon the female flowers. Pollination is done either by hand or mechanically. The manual process involves the workers climbing the tree by gripping the truck or using tall ladders to hand pollinate the female trees by placing small male clusters in the center of each female cluster. The mechanical process uses a powerful sprayer to carry the pollen over the female clusters. In addition to use for generating products, sexual techniques are used to produce seed, which is planted and cultivated into new plants. An example of an asexual technique is cutting shoots from mature plants for replanting.

                    Cultivation can be manual or mechanized. Banana cultivation is typically manual, but in flat terrain, mechanization with large tractors is used. Mechanical shovels may be used to dig drainage ditches in banana fields. Fertilizer is added monthly to bananas, and pesticides are applied with boom sprayers or from the air. The plants are supported with bamboo poles against storm damage. A banana plant bears fruit after two years.

                    Harvesting relies largely on manual labour, though some machinery is also used. Harvesters cut the banana bunches, called hands, from the tree with a knife attached to a long pole. The bunch is dropped onto a worker’s shoulder and a second worker attaches a nylon cord to the bunch, which is then attached to an overhead cable that moves the bunch to a tractor and trailer for transport. Tapping the coconut inflorescence for the juice entails the taper walking from tree to tree on strands of rope high above the ground. Workers climb to the tree tops to pluck the nuts manually or cut the nuts with a knife attached to long bamboo poles. In the Southwest Pacific area the nuts are allowed to fall naturally; then they are gathered. The date ripens in the fall and two or three crops are gathered, requiring climbing the tree or a ladder to the date clusters. An old system of machete harvesting of fruit bunches has been replaced by the use of a hook and pole. However, the machete is still used in harvesting many crops (e.g., sisal leaves).

                    Post-harvest operations vary between tree and palm and by the expected product. After harvesting, banana workers—typically women and youth—wash the bananas, wrap them in polyethylene and pack them in corrugated cardboard boxes for shipping. Sisal leaves are dried, bound and transported to the factory. Kapok fruit is field dried, and the resulting brittle fruit is broken open with a hammer or pipe. Kapok fibers are then ginned in the field to remove seeds by shaking or stirring, packed in jute sacks, batted in sacks to soften the fibers and baled. After harvest, dates are hydrated and artificially ripened. They are exposed to hot air (100 to 110 °C) to glaze the skin and semi-pasteurize them and then packaged.

                    The dried meaty endosperm of the coconut is marketed as copra, and the prepared husk of the coconut is marketed as coir. The fibrous nut husks are stripped off by striking and levering them against spikes firmly fixed into the ground. The nut, stripped of the husk, is split in half with an axe and dried either in the sun, kilns or hot-air dryers. After drying, the meat is separated from the hard woody shell. Copra is used to produce coconut oil, oil extraction residue called copra cake or poonac and desiccated food. The coir is retted (partially rotted) by soaking in water for three to four weeks. Workers remove the retted coir from the pits in waist-deep water and send it for decortication, bleaching and processing.

                    Hazards and Their Prevention

                    Hazards in tropical fruit and palm crop production include injuries, natural exposures, pesticide exposures and respiratory and dermatitis problems. Working at high elevations is required for much work with many tropical trees and palms. The popular apple banana grows to 5 m, kapok to 15 m, coconut palms to 20 to 30 m, evergreen date palm to 30 m, and the oil palm, 12 m. Falls represent one of the most serious hazards in tropical tree cultivation, and so do falling objects. Safety harnesses and head protection should be used, and workers should be trained in their use. Using dwarf varieties of the palms may help eliminate the tree falls. Falls from the kapok tree because of branches breaking and minor hand injuries during shell cracking are also hazards.

                    Workers can be injured during the transport on trucks or tractor-drawn trailers. Workers climbing palms receive cuts and abrasions of the hands due to contact with sharp date palm spines and oil palm fruit as well as spiny sisal leaves. Sprains from falling in ditches and holes are a problem. Severe wounds from the machete may be inflicted. Workers, typically women, who lift packed boxes of bananas are exposed to heavy weights. Tractors should have safety cabs. Workers should be trained in the safe handling of agricultural implements, machinery guarding and safe tractor operation. Puncture-resistant gloves should be worn, and arm protection and hooks should be used in harvesting the oil palm fruit. Mechanization of weeding and cultivation reduces sprains from falls in ditches and holes. Safe and proper work practices should be used, such as proper lifting, getting help when lifting to reduce individual loads and taking breaks.

                    Natural hazards include snakes—a problem during forest clearing and in newly established plantations—and insects as well as diseases. Health problems include malaria, ancylostomiasis, anaemia and enteric diseases. The retting operation exposes workers to parasites and skin infections. Mosquito control, sanitation and safe drinking water are important.

                    Pesticide poisoning is a hazard in tropical tree production, and pesticides are used in significant quantities in fruit groves. However, palms have few problems with pests, and those that are a problem are unique to specific parts of the life cycle and thus can be identified for specific control. Integrated pest management and, when applying pesticides, following the manufacturer’s instructions are important protective measures.

                    Medical evaluations have identified cases of bronchial asthma among date workers probably from pollen exposure. Also reported among date workers are chronic dry eczema and “nail disease” (onychia). Respiratory protection should be provided during the pollination process, and workers should wear hand protection and frequently wash their hands to protect their skin when working with the trees and dates.



                    Thursday, 10 March 2011 16:45

                    Major Sectors and Processes

                    Thursday, 10 March 2011 15:28

                    Bark and Sap Production

                    Some text was revised from the articles “Hemp”, by A. Barbero-Carnicero; “Cork”, by C. de Abeu; “Rubber cultivation”, by the Dunlop Co.; “Turpentine”, by W. Grimm and H. Gries; “Tanning and leather finishing”, by V.P. Gupta; “Spice industry”, by S. Hruby; “Camphor”, by Y. Ko; “Resins”, by J. Kubota; “Jute”, by K.M. Myunt; and “Bark”, by F.J. Wenzel from the 3rd edition of this “Encyclopaedia”.

                    The term bark refers to the multilayered protective shell covering a tree, shrub or vine. Some herbaceous plants, such as hemp, are also harvested for their bark. Bark is composed of inner and outer bark. Bark starts at the vascular cambium in the inner bark, where cells are generated for the phloem or conductive tissue that transports sugar from the leaves to the roots and other parts of the plant and the sap wood inside the bark layer with vessels that carry water (sap) up from the roots to the plant. The primary purpose of the outer bark is to protect the tree from injury, heat, wind and infection. A great variety of products are extracted from bark and tree sap, as shown in table 1.

                    Table 1. Bark and sap products and uses


                    Product (tree)


                    Resins (inner bark)

                    Pine resin, copal, frankincense, myrrh, red resin (climbing palm)

                    Varnish, shellac, lacquer

                    Incense, perfume, dye

                    Oleoresins (sapwood)




                    Camphor (camphor laurel tree)

                    Solvent, thinner, perfume feedstock, disinfectant, pesticide

                    Violin bow treatment, varnish, paint, sealing wax, adhesive, cement, soap

                    Gymnast’s powder

                    Perfume, incense, plastic and film feedstock, lacquers, smokeless powder explosives, perfumes, disinfectants, insect repellents




                    Tyres, balloons, gaskets, condoms, gloves

                    Insulators, underground and marine cable coatings, golf balls, surgical appliances, some adhesives, chicle/base for chewing gum

                    Medicines and poisons (bark)

                    Witch hazel


                    Quinine (cinchona)


                    Pacific yew


                    Caffeine (yoco vine)

                    Lonchocarpus vine



                    Anti-malaria medicinal

                    Cough medicine

                    Ovarian cancer treatment

                    Arrow poison

                    Amazonian soft drink

                    Fish asphyxiate

                    Flavours (bark)

                    Cinnamon (cassia tree)

                    Bitters, nutmeg and mace, cloves, sassafras root

                    Spice, flavouring

                    Root beer (until linked to liver cancer)

                    Tannins (bark)

                    Hemlock, oak, acacia, wattle, willow, mangrove, mimosa, quebracho, sumach, birch

                    Vegetable tanning for heavier leathers, food processing, fruit ripening, beverage (tea, coffee, wine) processing, ink colouring ingredient, dyeing mordants

                    Cork (outer bark)

                    Natural cork (cork oak), reconstituted cork

                    Buoy, bottle cap, gasket, cork paper, cork board, acoustic tile, shoe inner sole

                    Fibre (bark)

                    Cloth (birch, tapa, fig, hibiscus, mulberry)

                    Baobab tree (inner) bark

                    Jute (linden family)

                    Bast from flax, hemp (mulberry family), ramie (nettle family)

                    Canoe, paper, loincloth, skirt, drapery, wall hanging, rope, fishing net, sack, coarse clothing


                    Hessians, sackings, burlap, twine, carpets, clothing

                    Cordage, linen


                    Sugar maple syrup (sapwood)

                    Gur (many palm species)

                    Condiment syrup

                    Palm sugar

                    Waste bark

                    Bark chips, strips

                    Soil conditioner, mulch (chips), garden pathway covering, fiberboard, particleboard, hardboard, chipboard, fuel


                    Trees are grown for their bark and sap products either by cultivation or in the wild. Reasons for this choice vary. Cork oak groves have advantages over wild trees, which are contaminated by sand and grow irregularly. The control of a rubber tree leaf rust fungus in Brazil is more effective in the sparse tree spacing of the wild. However, in locations free of this fungus, such as in Asia, plantation groves are very effective for cultivating rubber trees.


                    Three broad processes are used in harvesting bark and sap: stripping of bark in sheets, debarking for bulk bark and bark ingredients and the extraction of tree fluids by cutting or tapping.

                    Bark sheets

                    Stripping sheets of bark from standing trees is easier when the sap is running or after steam injection between the bark and the wood. Two bark stripping technologies are described below, one for cork and the other for cinnamon.

                    The cork oak is cultivated in the western Mediterranean basin for cork, and Portugal is the largest cork producer. The cork oak, as well as other trees such as the African baobab tree, share the important feature of regrowing outer bark after its removal. Cork is part of the outer bark that lies beneath the hard outer shell called the rhytidome. The thickness of the cork layer increases year-by-year. After an initial bark removal, harvesters cut regrown cork every 6 to 10 years. Stripping the cork involves cutting two circular and one or more vertical cuts without damaging the inner bark. The cork worker uses a bevelled hatchet handle to remove the cork sheets. The cork is then boiled, scraped and cut into marketable sizes.

                    Cinnamon tree cultivation has spread from Sri Lanka to Indonesia, East Africa and the West Indies. An ancient tree management technique is still used in cinnamon cultivation (as well as willow and cascara tree cultivation). The technique is called coppicing, from the French word couper, meaning to cut. In neolithic times, humans discovered that when a tree is cut close to the ground, a mass of similar, straight branches would sprout from the root around the stump, and that these stems could be regenerated by regular cutting just above ground. The cinnamon tree can grow to 18 m but is maintained as 2-metre-high coppices. The main stem is cut at three years, and the resulting coppices are harvested every two to three years. After cutting and bundling the coppices, the cinnamon gatherers slit the bark sides with a sharp, curved knife. They then strip the bark off and after one to two days separate the outer and inner bark. The outer corky layer is scraped off with a broad, blunt knife and discarded. The inner bark (phloem) is cut into 1-metre lengths called quills; these are the familiar cinnamon sticks.

                    Bulk bark and ingredients

                    In the second major process, bark may also be removed from cut trees in large rotating containers called debarking drums. Bark, as a byproduct of lumber, is used as fuel, fibre, mulch or tannin. Tannin is among the most important bark products and is used to produce leather from animal skins and in food processing (see the chapter Leather, fur and footwear). Tannins are derived from a variety of tree barks around the world by open diffusion or percolation.

                    In addition to tannin, many barks are harvested for their ingredients, which include witch hazel and camphor. Witch hazel is a lotion extracted by steam distillation of twigs from the North American witch hazel tree. Similar processes are used in harvesting camphor from branches of the camphor laurel tree.

                    Tree fluids

                    The third major process includes the harvesting of resin and latex from the inner bark and oeloresins and syrup from the sapwood. Resin is found especially in the pine. It oozes out of bark wounds to protect the tree from infection. To commercially obtain resin, the worker must wound the tree by peeling off a thin layer of the bark or piercing it.

                    Most resins thicken and harden when exposed to the air, but some trees produce liquid resins or oleoresins, such as turpentine from conifers. Severe wounds are made into one side of the tree wood to harvest turpentine. The turpentine runs down the wound and is collected and hauled to storage. Turpentine is distilled into turpentine oil with a colophony or rosin residue.

                    Any milky sap exuded by plants is called latex, which in rubber trees is formed in the inner bark. Latex gatherers tap the rubber trees with spiral cuts around the trunk without damaging the inner bark. They catch the latex in a bowl (see the chapter Rubber industry). The latex is kept from hardening either through coagulation or with an ammonium hydroxide fixative. Acid wood smoke in the Amazon or formic acid is used to coagulate raw rubber. Crude rubber is then shipped for processing.

                    In the early spring in the cold climates of the United States, Canada, and Finland, a syrup is harvested from the sugar maple tree. After the sap starts to run, spouts are placed into drilled holes in the trunk through which sap runs either into buckets or through plastic piping for transport to storage tanks. The sap is boiled to 1/40th of its original volume to produce maple syrup. Reverse osmosis may be used to remove much of the water prior to evaporation. The concentrated syrup is cooled and bottled.

                    Hazards and Their Prevention

                    The hazards related to producing bark and sap for processing are natural exposures, injuries, pesticide exposures, allergies and dermatitis. Natural hazards include snake and insect bites and the potential for infection where vector-borne or water-borne diseases are endemic. Mosquito control is important on plantations, and pure water supply and sanitation is important at any tree farm, grove or plantation.

                    Much of the work with bark stripping, cutting and tapping involves the possibility of cuts, which should be promptly treated to prevent infection. Hazards exist in the manual cutting of trees, but mechanized methods of clearing as well as planting have reduced injury hazards. The use of heat for “smoking” rubber and evaporating oils from bark, resins and sap expose workers to burns. Hot maple syrup exposes workers to scalding injuries during boiling. Special hazards include working with draught animals or vehicles, tool-related injuries and the lifting of bark or containers. Bark stripping machines expose workers to potentially serious injury as well as to noise. Injury control techniques are needed, including safe work practices, personal protection and engineering controls.

                    Pesticide exposures, especially to the herbicide sodium arsenite on rubber plantations, are potentially hazardous. These exposures can be controlled by following manufacturer recommendations for storage, mixing and spraying.

                    Allergic proteins have been identified in natural rubber sap, which has been associated with latex allergy (Makinen-Kiljunen et al. 1992). Substances in pine resin and sap can cause allergic reactions in persons sensitive to balsam-of-Peru, colophony or turpentine. Resins, terpenes and oils may cause allergic contact dermatitis in workers handling unfinished wood. Dermal exposures to latex, sap and resin should be avoided through safe work practices and protective clothing.

                    The disease hypersensitivity pneumonitis is also known as “maple stripper’s lung”. It is caused by exposure to the spores of Cryptostroma corticate, a black mould that grows under the bark, during bark removal from stored maple. Progressive pneumonitis may also be associated with sequoia and cork oak woods. Controls include eliminating the sawing operation, wetting the material during debarking with a detergent and ventilation of the debarking area.



                    Two dimensions are of special importance in the psychosocial characteristic of fishwork at sea. One dimension is the issue of scale and technology. Fisheries may be divided into: small-scale, artisanal, coastal or in-shore fisheries; and large-scale, industrial, deep sea, distant water or off-shore fishing. The psychosocial working and living conditions of crew members in small-scale fishing differ tremendously from the conditions faced by crews on large-scale vessels.

                    The second dimension is gender. Fishing vessels are generally all-male environments. Although exceptions occur in both small-scale and large-scale fishing, one-gender crews are most common worldwide. However, gender plays a role in the character of all crews. The sea/land split which fishers face and have to cope with is to a large extent a gendered division.

                    Small Fishing Vessels

                    On board small fishing vessels the crew members are usually related in several ways. A crew may consist of father and son, of brothers or of a mixture of close or more distant kin. Other community members may be in the crew. Depending on availability of male relatives or local customs, women are crewing. Wives may be operating a vessel together with their husbands, or a daughter may be crewing for her father.

                    A crew is more than a company of workmates. As kinship ties, neighbourhood ties and local community life most often bind them together, the vessel and workforce at sea is socially integrated with family and community life on shore. The ties have a two-way effect. Cooperation in fishing and belonging to a vessel confirms and tightens other social relations as well. When relatives are fishing together, a crew member cannot be replaced by a stranger, even if someone more experienced comes looking for a berth. Fishers have security in their job in such a tight network. On the other hand this also puts restrictions on switching to another vessel out of loyalty to one’s family.

                    The many-sided social relations mitigate conflicts on board. Small-scale fishers share a narrow physical space and are subjected to unpredictable and sometimes dangerous conditions of nature. Under these demanding circumstances it may be necessary to avoid open conflicts. The authority of the skipper is also constrained by the knitted network of relations.

                    Generally small-scale vessels will come on shore every day, which gives crew members the opportunity to interact with others on a regular basis, although their working hours may be long. Isolation is rare but may be felt by fishers who operate a vessel alone. Nevertheless radio communication at sea and traditions of comrade vessels operating in the vicinity of each other diminish the isolative effects of working alone in modern small-scale fishing.

                    Learning processes and safety on board are marked by the ties of kinship and locality. The crew are responsible for and dependent on each other. To work skilfully and responsibly may be of utmost importance in unforeseen situations of bad weather or accidents. The spectrum of skills required in small-scale fishing is very wide. The smaller the crew, the lower the level of specialization—workers must have comprehensive knowledge and be able to do a variety of tasks.

                    Unawareness or unwillingness in work is severely sanctioned by stigmatization. Every crew member has to do necessary tasks willingly, preferably without being told. Orders are supposed to be unnecessary except for the timing of a series of tasks. Cooperation in mutual respect is thus an important skill. The display of serious interest and responsibility is helped by the socialization in a fishing family or village. The diversity of work furthers the respect for experience in any position on board, and egalitarian values are usual.

                    Successful coping with the demanding cooperation, timing and skills needed in small-scale fishing under changing conditions of weather and seasons creates a high level of job satisfaction and a locally rewarded and strong work identity. Women who go fishing appreciate the status rise connected to their successful participation in men’s work. However, they also have to cope with the risk of losing ascriptions of femininity. Men who fish with women, on the other hand, are challenged by the risk of losing ascriptions of masculine superiority when women show their ability in fishing.

                    Large Fishing Vessels

                    In large-scale fishing, crew members are isolated from family and community while at sea, and many have only short periods on shore between trips. The duration of a fishing trip generally varies between 10 days and 3 months. Social interaction is limited to the mates on board the vessel. This isolation is demanding. Integration into family and community life when on shore may also be difficult and awaken a sense of homelessness. Fishermen highly depend on wives to keep alive their social network.

                    In an all-male crew the absence of women and lack of intimacy may contribute to rough sexualized conversations, sexualized bragging and a focus on porno movies. Such a ship culture may develop as an unhealthy way of exposing and confirming masculinity. Partly to prevent the development of a harsh, sexist and deprived atmosphere, Norwegian companies have since the 1980s employed up to 20% women in the crew on factory ships. A gender-mixed work environment is said to reduce the psychological stress; women are reported to bring a softer tone and more intimacy into the social relations on board (Munk-Madsen 1990).

                    The mechanization and specialization of work on board industrialized vessels creates a repetitive working routine. Shift work in two watches is usual as fishing goes on round the clock. Life on board consists of a cycle of working, eating and sleeping. In cases of huge catches, sleeping hours may be cut down. The physical space is restricted, the work monotonous and tiring and social interaction with others than the workmates impossible. As long as the vessel is at sea there is no escape from tensions among crew members. This poses a psychological stress on the crew.

                    The crews of deep-sea vessels with 20 to 80 workers on board cannot be recruited in a tight network of kinship and neighbourhood ties. Yet some Japanese companies have changed recruitment policies and prefer to staff their vessels with personnel who know each other through community or kin relations and who come from communities with traditions of fishing. This is done to solve problems of violent conflicts and excess drinking (Dyer 1988). Also, in the North Atlantic, companies to some extent prefer to hire fishers from the same community to support the social control and create a friendly environment on board.

                    The major reward in deep sea fishing is the chance of earning good salaries. For women it is furthermore the chance of a rise in status as they cope with work that is traditionally male and culturally ranked as superior to female work (Husmo and Munk-Madsen 1994).

                    The international deep-sea fishing fleet exploiting global waters may operate their vessels with crews of mixed nationalities. For instance, this is the case with the Taiwanese fleet, the world’s largest deep-sea fishing fleet. This may also be the case in joint venture fisheries where industrialized nations’ vessels are operating in developing countries’ waters. In cross-national crews, communication on board may suffer from language difficulties. Also the maritime hierarchy on board such vessels may be further stratified by an ethnic dimension. Fish workers of different ethnicity and nationality than the mother country of the vessel, particularly if the vessel is operating in home waters, may be treated far below the level that is otherwise required by officers. This concerns wage conditions and basic provisioning on board as well. Such practices may create racist work environments, increase tensions in crew on board and skew power relations between officers and crew.

                    Poverty, the hope of good earnings and the globalization of deep-sea fishing has fostered illegal recruitment practices. Crews from the Philippines are reported to be indebted to recruitment agencies and working in foreign waters without contracts and without security in pay or safety measures. Working in a highly mobile deep-sea fleet far from home and without support of any authorities leads to high insecurity, which may exceed the risks faced in stormy weather on the open ocean (Cura 1995; Vacher 1994).



                    Thursday, 10 March 2011 15:31

                    Bamboo and Cane

                    Adapted from Y.C. Ko’s article, “Bamboo and cane”, “Encyclopaedia of Occupational Health and Safety”, 3rd edition.

                    Bamboo, which is a subfamily of the grasses, exists as more than a thousand different species, but only a few species are cultivated in commercial plantations or nurseries. Bamboos are tree-like or shrubby grasses with woody stems, called culms. They range from small plants with centimetre-thick culms to giant subtropical species up to 30 m tall and 30 cm in diameter. Some bamboos grow at a prodigious rate, up to 16 cm in height per day. Bamboos rarely flower (and when they do, it may be at intervals of 120 years), but they can be cultivated by planting their stalks. Most bamboos came from Asia, where they grow wild in tropical and subtropical areas. Some species have been exported to temperate climates, where they require irrigation and special care during the winter.

                    Some bamboo species are used as vegetables and may be pickled or preserved. Bamboo has been used as an oral medicine against poisoning since it contains silicic acid which absorbs poison in the stomach. (Silicic acid is now produced synthetically.)

                    The wood-like properties of bamboo culms have led to their use for many other purposes. Bamboo is used in building houses, with the culms as uprights and the walls and roofs made from split stems or lattice work. Bamboo is also used for making boats and boat masts, rafts, fences, furniture, containers and handicraft products, including umbrellas and walking sticks. Other uses abound: water pipes, wheelbarrow axles, flutes, fishing rods, scaffolding, roller-blinds, ropes, rakes, brooms and weapons such as bows and arrows. In addition, bamboo pulp has been used to make high-quality paper. It is also grown in nurseries and used in gardens as ornamentals, wind breaks and hedges (Recht and Wetterwald 1992).

                    Cane is sometimes confused with bamboo, but is botanically different and comes from varieties of the rattan palm. Rattan palms grow freely in tropical and subtropical areas, particularly in Southeast Asia. Cane is used to make furniture (especially chairs), baskets, containers and other handicraft products. It is very popular due to its appearance and elasticity. It is frequently necessary to split the stems when cane is used in manufacturing.

                    Cultivation Processes

                    The processes for cultivating bamboo include propagation, planting, watering and feeding, pruning and harvesting. Bamboos are propagated in two ways: by planting seeds or by using sections of the rhizome (the underground stem). Some plantations depend upon natural reseeding. Since some bamboos flower infrequently and seeds remain viable only for a couple of weeks, most propagation is accomplished by dividing a large plant that includes the rhizome with culms. Spades, knives, axes or saws are used to divide the plant.

                    Growers plant bamboo in groves, and planting and replanting bamboo involves digging a hole, placing the plant into the hole and backfilling soil around its rhizomes and roots. About 10 years is required to establish a healthy grove of bamboo. Although not a concern in its native habitat where it rains often, irrigation is necessary when bamboos are grown in drier areas. Bamboo requires a lot of fertilizer, particularly nitrogen. Both animal dung and commercial fertilizer are used. Silica (SiO2) is as important for bamboos as is nitrogen. In natural growth, bamboo gains enough silica naturally by recycling it from shed leaves. In commercial nurseries, shed leaves are left around the bamboo and silica-rich clay minerals such as Bentonite may be added. Bamboos are pruned of old and dead culms to provide room for new growth. In Asian groves, dead culms may be split in the fields to hasten their decay and add to the soil’s humus.

                    Bamboo is harvested either as a food or for its wood or pulp. Bamboo shoots are harvested for food. They are dug from the soil and cut with a knife or chopped with an axe. The bamboo culms are harvested when they are 3 to 5 years old. Harvesting is timed for when the culms are neither too soft nor too hard. Bamboo culms are harvested for their wood. They are cut or chopped with a knife or an axe, and the cut bamboo may be heated to bend it or split with a knife and mallet, depending upon its end use.

                    Rattan palm cane is usually harvested from wild trees often in uncultivated mountainous areas. The stems of the plants are cut near the roots, dragged out from thickets and sun-dried. The leaves and the bark are then removed, and the stems are sent for processing.

                    Hazards and Their Prevention

                    Venomous snakes present a hazard in plantation groves. Stumbling over bamboo stumps may cause falls, and cuts can lead to tetanus infection. Bird and chicken droppings in bamboo groves can be contaminated with Histoplasma capsulatum (Storch et al. 1980). Working with bamboo culms can lead to knife cuts, particularly when splitting the culms. Sharp edges and the ends of bamboos can cause cuts or punctures. Hyperkeratosis of the palms and fingers has been observed in workers who make bamboo containers. Pesticide exposures are also possible. First aid and medical treatment is required to deal with snake bites. Vaccine and booster vaccine should be used to prevent tetanus.

                    All cutting knives and saws should be maintained and used with care. Where bird droppings are present, work should be conducted during wet conditions to prevent dust exposure, or respiratory protection should be used.

                    In harvesting palm cane, workers are exposed to the dangers of remote forests, including snakes and venomous insects. The bark of the tree has thorns that may tear the skin, and workers are exposed to cuts from knives. Gloves should be worn when the stems are handled. Cuts are also a risk during manufacture, and hyperkeratosis of the palms and fingers may often occur among workers, probably because of the friction of the material.



                    On-shore fish processing includes a variety of activities. The range is from small, low-technology fish processing, like drying or smoking of local catch for the local market, to the large, high-technology modern factory, producing highly specialized products that are consumer packed for an international market. In this article the discussion is limited to industrial fish processing. The level of technology is an important factor for the psychosocial environment in industrialized fish-processing plants. This influences the organization of work tasks, the wage systems, the control and monitoring mechanisms and the opportunities for the employees to have influence on their work and the corporate policy. Another important aspect when discussing psychosocial characteristics of the workforce in the on-shore fish-processing industry is the division of labour by sex, which is widespread in the industry. This means that men and women are assigned to different work tasks according to their sex and not to their skills.

                    In fish-processing plants, some departments are characterized by high technology and high degree of specialization, while others might use less advanced technology and be more flexible in their organization. The departments characterized by a high degree of specialization are, as a rule, those with a predominantly female workforce, while the departments where the work tasks are less specialized are those with a predominantly male workforce. This is based on an idea that certain work tasks are either fit for males only or females only. Tasks seen as fit only for males will have higher status than the tasks done by female workers only. Consequently, men will be unwilling to do “women’s work”, while most women are eager to do “men’s work” if allowed to. Higher status will also as a rule mean higher salary and better opportunities for advancement (Husmo and Munk-Madsen 1994; Skaptadóttir 1995).

                    A typical high-technology department is the production department, where the workers are lined up around the conveyor belt, cutting or packing fish fillets. The psychosocial environment is characterized by monotonous and repetitive tasks and a low degree of social interaction among the workers. The wage system is based on individual performance (bonus system), and individual workers are monitored by computer systems in addition to the supervisor. This causes high stress levels, and this type of work also increases the risk of developing strain-related syndromes among the workers. The workers’ restriction to the conveyor belt also reduces the possibilities for informal communication with the management in order to influence corporate policy and/or promote one’s self for a raise or a promotion (Husmo and Munk-Madsen 1994). Since the workers of highly specialized departments learn only a limited number of tasks, these are the most likely to be sent home when the production is reduced due to temporary lack of raw material or due to market problems. These are also the ones that are most likely to be replaced by machines or industrial robots as new technology is introduced (Husmo and Søvik 1995).

                    An example of a department of lower technology levels is the raw material department, where workers drive trucks and fork-lifts at the pier, unload, sort and wash the fish. Here we often find high flexibility in the work tasks, and the workers do different jobs throughout the day. The wage system is based on an hourly rate, and individual performance is not measured by computers, reducing stress and contributing to a more relaxed atmosphere. Variation in work tasks stimulates teamwork and improves the psycho- social environment in many ways. The social interactions increase, and the risk of strain-related syndromes is reduced. Possibilities for promotion increase, since learning a wider range of work tasks makes the workers more qualified for higher positions. Flexibility allows informal communication with the management/supervisor in order to influence corporate policy and individual promotion (Husmo 1993; Husmo and Munk-Madsen 1994).

                    The general trend is that the level of processing technology increases, leading to more specialization and automation in the fish-processing industry. This has consequences for the psychosocial environment of the workers as outlined above. The division of labour by sex means that the psychosocial environment for most women is worse than it is for men. The fact that women have the work tasks that are the most likely to be replaced by robots adds an additional dimension to this discussion, as it limits the work opportunities for women in general. In some cases these implications might apply not only to female workers, but also to lower social classes in the workforce or even to different races (Husmo 1995).



                    With the development of industrialized fish processing in the 19th and 20th centuries, wives and families were displaced from household-based processing and vending, and ended up unemployed or working for fish companies. The introduction of corporate-owned trawlers and, more recently, corporate-owned fish quotas (in the form of enterprise allocations and individual transferable quotas) has displaced male fishers. Changes of this kind have transformed many fishery communities into one-industry villages.

                    There are different kinds of one-industry fishery villages, but all are characterized by high dependence on a single employer for employment, and significant corporate influence within the community and sometimes the home lives of workers. In the most extreme case, one-industry fishery villages are actually company towns, in which a single corporation owns not only the plant and some of the vessels, but also local housing, stores, medical services and so on, and exercises significant control over local government representatives, the media and other social institutions.

                    Somewhat more common are villages in which local employment is dominated by a single, often vertically integrated corporate employer that uses its control over employment and markets to indirectly influence local politics and other social institutions associated with the family and community lives of workers. The definition of one-industry fishery villages can also be extended to include fish-processing firms that, despite their location within larger communities that are not fishery dependent, operate with significant autonomy from those communities. This structure is common in the shrimp-processing industry of India, which makes extensive use of young female migrant labourers, often recruited by contractors from nearby states. These workers generally live in compounds on company property. They are cut off from the local community by long working hours, a lack of kinship connections and by linguistic barriers. Such workplaces are like company towns in that companies exert significant influence over the non-working lives of their workers, and workers cannot easily turn to local authorities and other members of the community for support.

                    Economic uncertainty, unemployment, marginalization within decision-making processes, low income and limited access to and control over services are important determinants of health. These are all, to varying degrees, features of one-industry fishery villages. Fluctuations in fisheries markets and both natural and fishery-related fluctuations in the availability of fishery resources are a fundamental feature of fishery communities. Such fluctuations generate social and economic uncertainty. Fishery communities and households have often developed institutions that help them survive these periods of uncertainty. However, these fluctuations appear to be occurring more frequently in recent years. In the current context of global overfishing of commercial fish stocks, shifting effort to new species and regions, the globalization of markets and the development of aquacultured products which compete with wild fishery products in the marketplace, increased employment uncertainty, plant closures and low incomes are becoming common. In addition, when closures occur, they are more likely to be permanent because the resource is gone and work has moved elsewhere.

                    Employment uncertainty and unemployment are important sources of psychosocial stress that may affect men and women differently. The displaced worker/fisher must grapple with loss of self-esteem, loss of income, stress and, in extreme cases, loss of family wealth. Other family members must cope with the effects of workers’ displacement on their home and working lives. For example, household strategies for coping with prolonged male absence can become a problem when trawler workers find themselves unemployed and their wives find the autonomy and routines that helped them survive male absence threatened by the prolonged presence of displaced husbands. In small-scale fishing households, wives may have to adjust to longer absences and social isolation as their family members go further afield to find fish and employment. Where wives were also dependent on the fishery for wage employment, they may also have to struggle with the effects of their own unemployment on their health.

                    The stress of unemployment can be greater in one-industry communities where plant closures threaten the future of entire communities and the economic costs of job loss are enhanced by a collapse in the value of such personal assets as homes and cottages. Where, as is often the case, finding alternative employment requires moving away, there will be additional stresses on workers, their spouses and their children associated with displacement. When plant closures are accompanied by the transfer of fish quotas to other communities and the erosion of local educational, medical and other services in response to out migration and the collapse of local economies, the threats to health will be greater.

                    Dependence on a single employer can make it difficult for workers to participate in decision-making processes. In fisheries, as in other industries, some corporations have used the one-industry structure to control workers, oppose unionization and manipulate public understandings of issues and developments within the workplace and beyond. In the case of the Indian shrimp processing industry, migrant female processing workers suffer from terrible living conditions, extremely long hours, compulsory overtime and routine violation of their work contracts. In western countries, corporations may use their role as gate-keepers controlling seasonal workers’ eligibility for such programmes as unemployment insurance in negotiations with workers concerning unionization and working conditions. Workers in some one-industry towns are unionized, but their role in decision-making processes can still be mitigated by limited employment alternatives, by a desire to find local employment for their wives and children and by ecological and economic uncertainty. Workers can experience a sense of helplessness and may feel obliged to keep working despite illness when their ability to access work, housing and social programmes is controlled by a single employer.

                    Limited access to adequate medical services is also a psychosocial stressor. In company towns, medical professionals may be company employees and, as in mining and other industries, this can limit workers’ access to independent medical advice. In all types of one-industry villages, cultural, class and other differences between medical personnel and fishworkers, and high rates of turnover among medical professionals, can limit the quality of local medical services. Medical personnel rarely come from fishery communities and hence are often unfamiliar with the occupational health risks fishworkers encounter and the stresses associated with life in one-industry towns. Turnover rates among such personnel may be high due to relatively low professional incomes and discomfort with rural lifestyles and unfamiliar fishery cultures. In addition, medical personnel may tend to associate more with local elites, such as the plant management, than with workers and their families. These patterns can interfere with doctor-patient relations, continuity of care and medical expertise relevant to fisheries work. Access to appropriate diagnostic services for such fishery-related illnesses as repetitive strain injuries and occupational asthma may be very limited in these communities. Loss of work can also interfere with access to medical services by eliminating access to drug programmes and other insured medical services.

                    Strong social supports can help mitigate the health effects of unemployment, displacement and economic uncertainty. One-industry villages can encourage the development of dense social and kinship-based ties between workers and, particularly if plants are locally owned, between workers and employers. These social supports can mitigate the effects of economic vulnerability, difficult working conditions and ecological uncertainty. Family members can watch out for each other in the workplace and sometimes help out when workers get into financial trouble. Where fishery workers are able to maintain some economic independence through subsistence activities, they can retain more control over their lives and work than where access to these is lost. Increasing employment uncertainty, plant closures and local competition for jobs and government-adjustment programmes can erode the strength of these local networks, contributing to conflict and isolation within these communities.

                    When plant closures mean moving away, displaced workers risk loss of access to these social networks of support and subsistence-related sources of independence.



                    Thursday, 10 March 2011 16:57

                    Health Problems and Disease Patterns

                    Work in the fishing and fish-processing industry shows a clear differentiation according to gender, with the men traditionally doing the actual fishing while the women work at fish processing on shore. Many of the persons working on fishing vessels may be looked upon as unskilled; the deckhands, for instance, receive their training in the work on board. The navigators (captain, skipper and mate), the machine room personnel (engineer, machinist and stoker), the radio operators and the cooks all have different educational backgrounds. The main assignment is to fish; other tasks include loading of the vessel, which is done on the open sea, followed by the fish processing, which takes place to various stages of completion. The only common exposure of these groups occurs during their stay on board the vessel, which is in constant motion both while they are working and resting. Fish processing on shore will be dealt with later.


                    The most dangerous work tasks for the individual fishers are related to the setting out and hauling in of the fishing gear. In trawler fishing, for example, the trawl is laid out in a sequence of tasks involving the complicated coordination of different types of winches (see “Major sectors and processes” in this chapter). All operations take place at great speed, and teamwork is absolutely essential. While setting the trawl, the connecting of the trawl doors to the warp (wire ropes) is one of the most dangerous moments, as these doors weigh several hundred kilograms. Other parts of the fishing gear are also too heavy to be handled without the use of derricks and winches while shooting the trawl (i.e., heavy gear and bobbings move freely around before being hoisted overboard).

                    The whole procedure of setting and hauling aboard the trawl, purse seine and nets is carried out using wire cables which pass across the working area often. The cables are at high tension, as there is often an extremely heavy pull from the fishing gear in a direction opposite of the forward motion of the fishing vessel itself. There is a great risk of getting entangled by or falling onto the fishing gear and thus being drawn overboard, or of falling overboard when laying out the fishing gear. There is a risk of crushing and trapping injuries to fingers, hands and arms, and the heavy gear may fall or roll and thus injure legs and feet.

                    Bleeding and gutting the fish are often done manually and take place on the deck or on a shelterdeck. The pitching and rolling of the vessels make injuries to the hands and fingers common from knife cuts or from pricks of fish bones and spines. Infections in wounds are frequent. Long-line and hand-line fishing involve the risk of wounds to fingers and hands from the hooks. As this type of fishing is becoming more and more automated it is becoming associated with dangers from line haulers and winches.

                    The method of managing fishing by limiting the amount caught from a restricted natural resource area also influences the injury rate. In some places pursuit quotas allocate to the vessels certain days when they are allowed to fish, and the fishers feel they have to go fishing at these times whatever the weather.

                    Fatal accidents

                    Fatal accidents at sea are easily studied through mortality registers, as accidents at sea are coded on the death certificates as water transport accidents according to the International Classification of Diseases, with an indication as to whether the injury was sustained while employed on board. Death rates from work-related fatal accidents among workers in the fishing industry are high, and higher than for many other occupational groups on shore. Table 1 shows the mortality rate per 100,000 for fatal accidents in different countries. The fatal injuries are traditionally classified as (1) individual accidents (i.e., individuals falling overboard, being swept overboard by heavy seas or being fatally injured by machinery) or (2) individuals lost as a result of vessel casualties (e.g., because of foundering, capsizing, missing vessels, explosions and fires). Both categories are related to the weather conditions. Accidents to individual crew members outnumber the others.

                    Table 1. Mortality figures on fatal injuries among fishermen as reported in studies from various countries


                    Study period

                    Rates per 100,000

                    United Kingdom



                    United Kingdom



                    United Kingdom






                    New Zealand






















                    The safety of a vessel depends on its design, size and type, and on factors such as stability, freeboard, weather-tight integrity and structural protection against fire. Negligent navigation or errors of judgement may result in casualties to vessels, and the fatigue which follows long spells of duty may also play a role, as well as being an important cause of personal accidents.

                    Better safety records of more modern vessels may be due to the combined effects of improved human and technical efficiency. Training of personnel, proper use of flotation support apparatus, suitable clothing and the use of buoyant overalls may all increase the probability of rescue of persons in the event of an accident. More widespread use of other safety measures, including safety lines, helmets and safety shoes, may be needed in the fishing industry in general, as discussed elsewhere in this Encyclopaedia.

                    Non-fatal injuries

                    Non-fatal injuries are also quite common in the fishing industry (see table 2). The body regions of injured workers most frequently mentioned are the hands, lower limbs, head and neck and upper limbs, followed by the chest, spine and abdomen, in decreasing order of frequency. The most common types of traumas are open wounds, fractures, strains, sprains and contusions. Many non-fatal injuries may be serious, involving, for instance, amputation of fingers, hands, arms and legs as well as injuries to the head and neck. Infections, lacerations and minor traumas of the hands and fingers are quite frequent, and treatment with antibiotics is often recommended by the ship’s doctors in all cases.

                    Table 2. The most important jobs or places related to risk of injuries

                    Job or tasks

                    On board vessels injury

                    On shore injury

                    Setting and hauling trawl, purse seine and other fishing gear

                    Entangled in the fishing gear or wire cables, crushing injuries, fall overboard


                    Connecting trawl doors

                    Crushing injuries, fall overboard


                    Bleeding and gutting

                    Cuts from knives or machines,
                    musculoskeletal disorders

                    Cuts from knives or machines,
                    musculoskeletal disorders

                    Long-line and hand-line

                    Wounds from hooks, entangled in the line


                    Heavy lifts

                    Musculoskeletal disorders

                    Musculoskeletal disorders


                    Cuts, amputations using knives or machines, musculoskeletal disorders

                    Cuts, amputations using knives or machines, musculoskeletal disorders

                    Trimming fillets

                    Cuts from knives, musculoskeletal disorders

                    Cuts from knives, musculoskeletal disorders

                    Work in confined spaces, loading and landing

                    Intoxication, asphyxia

                    Intoxication, asphyxia



                    Information on the general health of fishers and overviews of their illnesses are mainly obtained from two types of reports. One source is the case series compiled by ships’ doctors, and the other is the medical advice reports, which report on evacuations, hospitalizations and repatriations. Unfortunately, most if not all of these reports give only the numbers of patients and percentages.

                    The most frequently reported non-traumatic conditions leading to consultations and hospitalization arise as a result of dental conditions, gastro-intestinal illness, musculoskeletal conditions, psychiatric/neurological conditions, respiratory conditions, cardiological conditions and dermatological complaints. In one series reported by a ship’s doctor, psychiatric conditions were the most common reason for evacuating workers from trawlers on long-term fishing voyages, with injuries only coming in second place as a reason for rescuing fishers. In another series the most common illnesses which necessitated repatriation were cardiological and psychiatric conditions.

                    Occupational asthma

                    Occupational asthma is frequently found among workers in the fish industry. It is associated with several types of fish, but most commonly it is related to exposure to crustaceans and molluscs—for example, shrimp, crabs, shellfish and so on. The processing of fishmeal is also often related to asthma, as are similar processes, such as grinding shells (shrimp shells in particular).

                    Hearing loss

                    Excessive noise as a cause of decreased hearing acuity is well recognized among workers in the fish-processing industry. The machine room personnel on the vessels are at extreme risk, but so are those working with the older equipment in fish processing. Organized hearing conservation programmes are widely needed.


                    In some studies on fishers and sailors from the merchant fleet, high death rates because of suicide have been reported. There is also an excess of deaths in the category where the doctors were not able to decide whether the injury was accidental or self- inflicted. There is a widespread belief that suicides in general are underreported, and this is rumoured to be even greater in the fishing industry. Psychiatric literature gives descriptions of calenture, a behavioural phenomenon where the predominant symptom is an irresistible impulse for sailors to jump into the sea from their vessels. The underlying causes for the risk for suicide have not been studied among fishermen particularly; however, consideration of the psychosocial situation of the workforce at sea, as discussed in another article in this chapter, seems a not unlikely place to start. There are indications that the suicide risk increases when the workers stop fishing and go ashore both for a short while or definitely.

                    Fatal poisoning and asphyxia

                    Fatal poisoning occurs in incidents of fire on board fishing vessels, and is related to inhalation of toxic smoke. There are also reports of fatal and non-fatal intoxication resulting from the leak of refrigerants or the use of chemicals for preserving shrimp or fish, and from toxic gases from the anaerobic decay of organic material in unventilated holds. The refrigerants concerned range from the highly toxic methyl chloride to ammonia. Some deaths have been attributed to exposure to sulphur dioxide in confined spaces, which is reminiscent of the incidents of silo-filler’s disease, where there is exposure to nitrogen oxides. Research has similarly shown that there are mixtures of toxic gases (i.e., carbon dioxide, ammonia, hydrogen sulphide and carbon monoxide), along with low partial pressure of oxygen in holds on board ship and on shore, which have resulted in casualties, both fatal and non-fatal, often related to industrial fish such as herring and capelin. In commercial fishing, there are some reports of intoxication when landing fish that have been related to trimethylamine and endotoxins causing symptoms resembling influenza, which may, however, lead to death. Attempts could be made to reduce these risks through improved education and alterations to equipment.

                    Skin diseases

                    Skin diseases affecting hands are common. These may be related to contact with fish proteins or to the use of rubber gloves. If gloves are not used, the hands are constantly wet and some workers may become sensitized. Thus most of the skin diseases are contact eczema, either allergic or non-allergic, and the conditions are often constantly present. Boils and abscesses are recurrent problems also affecting hands and fingers.


                    Some studies, although not all, show low mortality from all causes among fishermen as compared to the general male population. This phenomenon of low mortality in a group of workers is called the “healthy worker effect”, referring to the consistent tendency for actively employed people to have more favourable mortality experience than the population at large. However, due to high mortality from accidents at sea, the results from many mortality studies on fishermen show high death rates for all causes.

                    The mortality from ischemic heart diseases is either elevated or decreased in studies on fishermen. Mortality from cerebrovascular diseases and respiratory diseases is average among fishermen.

                    Unknown causes

                    Mortality from unknown causes is higher among fishermen than other men in several studies. Unknown causes are special numbers in the International Classification of Diseases used when the doctor who issues the death certificate is not able to state any specific disease or injury as the cause of death. Sometimes deaths registered under the category of unknown causes are due to accidents in which the body was never found, and are most likely water transport accidents or suicides when the death occurs at sea. In any case an excess of deaths from unknown causes can be an indication, not only of a dangerous job, but also of a dangerous lifestyle.

                    Accidents occurring other than at sea

                    An excess of fatal traffic accidents, various poisonings and other accidents, suicide and homicide have been found among fishermen (Rafnsson and Gunnarsdóttir 1993). In this connection the hypothesis has been suggested that seamen are influenced by their dangerous occupation towards hazardous behaviour or a hazardous lifestyle. The fishermen themselves have suggested that they become unaccustomed to traffic, which could provide an explanation for the traffic accidents. Other suggestions have focused on the attempts of fishermen, returning from long voyages during which they have been away from family and friends, to catch up on their social life. Sometimes fishermen spend only a short time ashore (a day or two) between long voyages. The excess of deaths from accidents other than those at sea points to an unusual lifestyle.


                    The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), which among other things has a role in evaluating industries in respect to the potential cancer risks for their workers, has not included fishing or the fish-processing industry among those industrial branches showing clear signs of cancer risk. Several mortality and cancer morbidity studies discuss the cancer risk among fishermen (Hagmar et al. 1992; Rafnsson and Gunnarsdóttir 1994, 1995). Some of them have found an increased risk for different cancers among fishermen, and suggestions are often given as to possible causes for the cancer risks which involve both occupational and lifestyle factors. The cancers which will be discussed here are cancer of the lip, lung and stomach.

                    Cancer of the lip

                    Fishing has traditionally been related to lip cancer. Previously this was thought to be related to exposure to tars used to preserve the nets, since the workers had used their mouths as “third hands” when handling the nets. Currently the aetiology of lip cancer among fishermen is considered to be the joint effect of exposure to ultraviolet radiation during outdoor work and smoking.

                    Cancer of the lung

                    The studies on lung cancer are not in accord. Some studies have not found increased risk of lung cancer among fishermen. Studies of fishermen from Sweden showed less lung cancer than the reference population (Hagmar et al. 1992). In an Italian study the lung cancer risk was thought to be related to smoking and not to the occupation. Other studies on fishermen have found increased risk of lung cancer, and still others have not confirmed this. Without information on smoking habits it has been difficult to evaluate the role of smoking versus the occupational factors in the possible cases. There are indications of the need to study separately the different occupational groups on the fishing vessels, as engine room personnel have elevated risk for lung cancer, thought to be due to exposure to asbestos or polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons. Further studies are thus needed to clarify the relation of lung cancer and fishing.

                    Cancer of the stomach

                    Many studies have found elevated risk of stomach cancer in fishermen. In the Swedish studies the risk of stomach cancer was thought to be related to high consumption of fatty fish contaminated with organochlorine compounds (Svenson et al. 1995). At present it is uncertain what role dietary, lifestyle and occupational factors play in the association of stomach cancer with fishing.



                    The term musculoskeletal disorders is used collectively for symptoms and diseases of the muscles, tendons and/or joints. Such disorders are often unspecified and can vary in duration. The main risk factors for work-related musculoskeletal disorders are heavy lifting, awkward work postures, repetitive work tasks, psychological stress and improper job organization (see figure 1).

                    Figure 1. Manual handling of fish in a fish-packing plant in Thailand


                    In 1985, the World Health Organization (WHO) issued the following statement: “Work-related diseases are defined as multifactorial, where the work environment and the performance of work contribute significantly; but as one of a number of factors to the causation of disease” (WHO 1985). There are, however, no internationally accepted criteria for the causes of work-related musculoskeletal disorders. Work-related musculoskeletal disorders appear in both developing and developed countries. They have not disappeared despite the development of new technologies permitting machines and computers to take over what was previously manual work (Kolare 1993).


                    Work aboard vessels is physically and mentally demanding. Most of the well-known risk factors for musculoskeletal disorders mentioned above are often present in the fishermen’s work situation and organization.

                    Traditionally most fishery workers have been males. Swedish studies on fishermen have shown that symptoms from the musculoskeletal system are common, and that they follow a logical pattern according to the fishing and type of working tasks on board. Seventy-four per cent of the fishermen had experienced symptoms of the musculoskeletal system during the previous 12 months. The largest number of fishermen considered the motion of the vessel to be a major strain, not only on the musculoskeletal system, but on the individual as a whole (Törner et al. 1988).

                    There are not many published studies on musculoskeletal disorders among workers in fish processing. There is a long tradition of female domination in the job of cutting and trimming the fillets in the fish-processing industry. Results from Icelandic, Swedish and Taiwanese studies show that female workers in the fish-processing industry had a higher prevalence of symptoms of musculoskeletal disorders of the neck or shoulders than women who had more varied jobs (Ólafsdóttir and Rafnsson1997; Ohlsson et al. 1994; Chiang et al. 1993). These symptoms were thought to be causally related to the highly repetitive tasks with a short cycle time of less than 30 seconds. Work with highly repetitive tasks without the possibility of rotation between different jobs is a high risk factor. Chiang and co-workers (1993) studied workers in the fish-processing industry (men and women) and found a higher prevalence of symptoms of the upper limbs among those with jobs involving high repetitiveness or forceful movements, as compared to those in the same factories who had jobs with low repetitiveness and low-force movements.

                    As mentioned above, musculoskeletal disorders have not disappeared despite the development of new technologies. The flow line is an example of one new technique which has been introduced in the fish-processing industry ashore and on board larger processing vessels. The flow line consists of a system of conveyor belts which transport the fish through decapitating and filleting machines to the workers who seize each fillet and cut and trim it with a knife. Other conveyor belts transport the fish to the packing station, after which the fish is quick-frozen. The flow line has changed the prevalence of musculoskeletal symptoms among women working in fish-filleting plants. After the introduction of the flow line, the prevalence of symptoms of the upper limbs increased while the prevalence of symptoms of the lower limbs decreased (Ólafsdóttir and Rafnsson 1997).

                    In order to develop a strategy for their prevention it is important to understand the causes, mechanisms, prognosis and prevention of musculoskeletal disorders (Kolare et al. 1993). The disorders cannot be prevented by new technologies exclusively. The whole working environment, including the work organization, has to be taken into consideration.



                    Page 5 of 9

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                    Part I. The Body
                    Part II. Health Care
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