Study finds chronic health risks in Alaska fishermen

June 22, 2018

KODIAK, Alaska (AP) — The presence of risk factors for some chronic health problems was found to be higher in a sample of Alaska gillnetters than the general population, according to researchers.

The study by researchers at the University of Washington and the University of Alaska Fairbanks showed that higher risk rates of hearing loss, musculoskeletal disorders and sleeping problems were found in the group of commercial fisherman in Cordova, Alaska, the Kodiak Daily Mirror reported Thursday.

Aspects of the job like exposure to noise, the physical demands on the upper body and long working hours can exacerbate these chronic conditions, according to the study.

Researchers surveyed more than 600 commercial gillnetters before and during the 2015 salmon season. About 66 fishermen also participated in a pre-season survey and 38 participated in the mid-season survey.

About a third of the participants also had physical examinations, and a few wore a monitor to detect their health and sleep patterns.

Half those surveyed reported having hearing loss and about 80 percent who underwent physical examinations showed “measured hearing loss.”

About 40 percent of the participants examined were found to have rotator cuff tendinitis.

Commercial fishermen are injured on the job at a rate 55 percent higher than the average full time worker, according to the study.

The study consisted of almost entirely white men with an average age of 49 and 27 years of fishing experience. The researchers said the study is based on “a small sample” and there could be a healthy worker bias “likely skewing this sample toward the most health-conscious subset of gillnet fishermen.”


Information from: Kodiak (Alaska) Daily Mirror, http://www.kodiakdailymirror.com

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