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OSU researchers to study how to make ‘deadliest catch’ safer

 An undated photo of Dungeness crabs, freshly unpacked.
Brian Bull
An undated photo of Dungeness crabs, freshly unpacked.

Crabbing is Oregon’s most lucrative – and dangerous – fishing market. Now a federal grant aims to make the work safer.

Nearly $900,000 from the Occupational Safety and Health Department will fund research by Oregon State University faculty.

Laurel Kincl is an associate professor who’s been in touch with crab fishermen as part of the research.

“A lot of strains and sprains, and a lot of fractures from the handling of the gear,” Kincl told KLCC. “So that’s why we ask fishermen what can be done to help improve productivity, but also improve their safety.”

Jay Kim is an assistant professor with OSU’s Occupational Ergonomics and Biomechanics Lab. He said the focus of the research will be on how a winch device, called the block, and sorting tables affect crab fisherman over time.

“Including their body postures, repetition, as well as an estimated joint-torque-synch compressive forces on their spine and individual joints.”

The federal grant will fund the research for three years.

Crab harvests across Oregon net $33 to 75 million a year.

Copyright 2021, KLCC.

Brian Bull joined the KLCC News Team in June 2016. He is a 20-year reporter who has worked at NPR, South Dakota Public Broadcasting, Wisconsin Public Radio, and ideastream in Cleveland. His reporting has netted dozens of accolades, including three Edward R. Murrow Awards and the Ohio Associated Press' Best Reporter Award in 2012.