The Norwegian aquaculture industry has high accident numbers compared to other industries. There is a need for measures and systems that help improve safety and working conditions for workers.
The project Safer operations and workplaces in fish farming has provided research-based knowledge about health, safety and work environment for employees at fish farms, of safety management and suppliers role for development of technology that improves safety and work environment. The project shows how risks can be reduced. The aim is to ensure a safe work life for employees in the industry.
To assess employees' perceptions of health, work environment and safety a survey has been conducted amongst employees at fish farms and service vessels. The OHS-survey in aquaculture (in Norwegian) (Thorvaldsen et al. 2017) with answers from almost 447 employees shows that fish farmers experience high well-being and good health. Regarding health problems, musculoskeletal complaints stand out. Pain in the neck, shoulders and arms, as well as pain in the back and hands/wrists are most common. These are ailments that many employees relate to the work. About half of the employees with work-related sick absence state that it is due to musculoskeletal complaints. Many also worry that the working enviornment may affect their health negatively now or in the future. Overall, employees perceive the safety climate as good, but at the same acute injuries due to accidents is the second most common cause for work-related sick absence as well as worries.
Furthermore, field studies at four fish farms aimed to study work strain and physiological responses among fish farmers. The field studies included continuous measurements of core- and skin temperatures as well as heart rate during a work shift. The results demonstrated that the fish farmers were exposed to intermittent periods of heavy work, shown as elevated core temperature and heart rate, and periods with lower workloads. The project discusses this in relation to age, physical fitness, workload recommendations and musculoskeletal disorders. Combined with data from the survey and personal interviews with employees in the industry this provides valuable knowledge that the companies may use to improve working conditions and health for employees.
The survey "Safety management in aquaculture" (in Norwegian) (Kongsvik et al. 2018) was answered by management and staff and shows that safety management in the industry is going in the right direction, but also that there are challenges. Insufficient staffing and long working hours during large operations and lacking training of temporary workers are examples of challenges. The survey shows that production may be prioritized before safety, because of poor maintenance and training.
In the report "Safe design in aquaculture" (in Norwegian) (Salomonsen et al. 2019) a survey on suppliers' product- and service development is presented, with focus on how and in which ways OHS is included in these processes. The report provides recommendations for design principles that suppliers may utilize in their product ? and service development.
The project is financed by the Norwegian Research Council (2016-2019) and lead by SINTEF Ocean. SINTEF Digital, Dept. for Health Research and NTNU Social Research, Studio Apertura are research partners. An industry reference group has participated to ensure relevance and communication with key users. Results are also presented in relevant forums, both nationally and internationally during the project period.
Kongsvik, Trond, Holmen, Ingunn M., Rasmussen, Martin, Størkersen, Kristine Vedal, Thorvaldsen, Trine (2018) Sikkerhetsstyring i havbruk En spørreskjemaundersøkelse blant ledelse og stabspersonell. Trondheim: NTNU Samfunnsforskning Studio Apertura
Salomonsen, Cecilie, Thorvaldsen, Trine, Bjelland, Hans, Holmen, Ingunn M. (2019) Sikker design i havbruk. Trondheim: SINTEF Rapport 2019:00574
Thorvaldsen, Trine, Holmen, Ingunn M., Kongsvik, Trond (2017) HMS-undersøkelsen i havbruk 2016. Trondheim: SINTEF Rapport OC2017 A-113
The primary objective of this project is to provide knowledge about the current situation regarding health, safety and work environment for production site workers in the Norwegian aquaculture industry, and how to reduce risks in marine operations by building safety barriers into procedures, systems and technology. The aim is to reduce the probability for and the consequences of operational and human errors.
The industry struggles to implement effective means to prevent escape of fish and occupational accidents. This project will provide knowledge on how sustainability, cost efficiency and predictability can be ensured by focusing on safe workplaces at the production sites, organizational issues and reduction of risks through design of new technology.
An interdisciplinary approach will be applied to achieve the goals of the project. The starting point of this project is to study the characteristics of the fish farmers' work environment, the workers' role in the value chain of cost-efficient production of high quality fish, and how organizational factors influence the safety performance at the fish farms. This will form the basis for the development of design principles to be used by manufacturers to build safety barriers into the products, and by fish farming companies in the process of testing and evaluating new equipment or work procedures. The theoretical perspectives are based on the understanding that technical, human and organizational factors should be seen as complementary safety indicators.
This project will be carried out in collaboration between SINTEF Fisheries and Aquaculture, SINTEF Technology and Society, Dept. for Health Research and NTNU Social Research, Studio Apertura. International experts will be invited as scientific advisors and master students are to be recruited to the project. An industry reference group is established to ensure industry relevance and communication with key users.