October 30, 2019
The Association of Seafood Producers today responded to reports of shellfish asthma in the shellfish processing sector, saying the industry has come a long way from when it first started and things are better than some think.
“Reports of up to 25% of workers with shellfish asthma are not factual,” said Derek Butler, head of the industry trade association representing the province’s processing sector.
“There have been occurrences, and from time to time we do still see cases, but the processing sector has made significant improvements in this regard, with improved procedures around ventilation, for example, to reduce these instances.”
According to WorkplaceNL statistics, the number of crab asthma cases in the province’s seafood sector was 38 in the period between 1997 and 2016. The incident rate has dropped by 83% since 2002.
“Of those 38 cases, 24 were instances where the symptoms were specifically tied back to shellfish asthma, but 14 were not,” said Butler. “We’re down to one or two cases per year, and when we see it, workers can be moved in the plant.”
“As we have said before, building a safety culture in our plants is a priority, we have made great progress” said Butler.