Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19): Workplace Health and Safety Information—Agriculture, Forestry & Fishing

Participatory Ergonomics for the Lobster Industry


The proposed investigation would evaluate the changes in ergonomics of lobster boats and the capacity of lobstering communities to respond to the challenges of exposures to risk for musculoskeletal disorders.

Ergonomic evaluations would be made via measurement techniques in accordance with the type of exposure and intervention implemented on a given lobster boat. Boats subject to evaluation will be operated by

lobstermen volunteering to engage with the investigators and supportive community stakeholders in a participatory ergonomics research cycle of meetings aimed at reducing risk and improving ergonomics on their

boat. The overall structure, process, and outcome will be guided by a community-research partnership focused on the goals and objectives of the investigation.


The long-term goal of this proposal is to develop feasible ergonomic interventions in the lobster industry in order to reduce the overall rates of musculoskeletal disorders in the general population of lobster harvesting

workers. The objective of this project is to obtain support for a participatory process between lobstermen, health and safety researchers, health professionals, lobstering industry personnel, and other community stakeholders

interested in following an organized method to prevent incident and reduce prevalent musculoskeletal disorders in the population.


Specific Aims

Aim #1 – Organize a steering committee to guide development and implementation of a participatory ergonomics approach to reduce exposures for musculoskeletal disorders in lobstering.

Aim #2 – Through this participatory ergonomics approach, generate ideas, translate ideas into action, and implement interventions to reduce exposure to risk factors for musculoskeletal disorders.

Aim #3 – Evaluate the participatory process and the efficacy and effectiveness of the implemented ergonomic interventions.

Aim #4 – Develop the shore-based infrastructure for translation of ergonomic ideas into practice in the lobstering industry.


NORA priorities addressed

Strategic Goals 8 and 9 – Fishing Safety and Health

Research Team

Bryan Buchholz, PhD with UMASS Lowell

Scott Fulmer, MS with UMASS Lowell