Occupational health and safety in aquaculture: Organisation of work and employment in small seaweed farms in North West Europe

Eva Makri,David Walters,Emma Wadsworth,Helen Devereux, Sander W. K. van den Burg


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There is evidence that seaweed production can involve a variety of physical risks, but there has been little study of how wider contextual factors - such as enterprise size, economic and business relations, and forms of employment arrangements - may affect workers' safety. This study explores the impact of such aspects on workers' experiences of occupational safety and health (OSH) risks and their management in the developing seaweed industry, in North West Europe. Based on qualitative findings from a survey and discussions with owners/managers, workers and stakeholders in the industry, the study identified a number of issues relating to OSH in seaweed production. These include the predominance of micro small enterprises, the presence of significant risks to health and safety and limitations in the capacity of owners/managers to address them, as well as structural and economic factors in the sector that promote precarious work, and the low visibility and inaccessibility of micro and small enterprises (MSEs) to both public and private regulations. The paper discusses experiences of these issues in the emergent industry and relates them to the wider literature about work health and safety in micro and small firms and precarious and non-standard forms of work, typically found in agriculture and food production. Findings point to the need for better orchestration of public and private regulatory influences and further research to determine if strategies that are seen as successful in other sectors could be transferred to the emergent European seaweed industry.
Europe,micro and small enterprises,occupational safety and health,precarious employment,seaweed
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