All 291 fatal accidents (510 persons on board, 318 drowned) in water traffic in Finland in 1986-1988 were investigated by specific teams. Only some data of this extensive investigation are presented in this study. Staggering and falling in boat because of drunkenness, falling over and sinking of boat were the main causes of getting into water of the people aboard. Only 3.5% of the drowned had used life jackets and 9.7% of them could not swim. The reduced ability to swim because of alcohol and the exhaustion were in about half of the drowned the actual cause and the cold water in one third the background factor for drowning. The results indicate that fatal accidents in water traffic are a major problem of males (95.9%) and give important information for countermeasures.
It is suggested that, within the same energy level, an impulse noise is more hazardous to hearing than a permanent noise. To justify this hypothesis, a study was performed with groups of wood-cutters and shipyard workers to investigate different characteristics of noise load (noise levels, noise impulsivity from the outside and under the ear-flaps, noise emission levels with regard to the length of work and using ear-flaps), and hearing losses (both real and forecasted on the Robinson model). To avoid individual factors, a computerized assessment of 38 pairs of workers from both teams was performed (with regard to similar noise emission levels, diastolic pressures, smoking habits, their military service backgrounds as to the service in heavy artillery units, absence of otic diseases, low consumption of salicylates). The results showed that, within the same energy level, the noise in the shipyard was three times as impulsive and more otic disorders inducing than the noise in the wood-cutters' working conditions.
An explosion in a Danish supertanker under construction in 1994 caused the death of six workers and injured 15. Six months later 270 workers took part in this study, which analyses the relationships between objective stressors, the workers' own feelings and the reactions of their families after the explosion together with training, attitude to the workplace, general out-look, and received crisis help. Traumatisation, coping style and crisis support was assessed via the Impact of Event Scale (IES), the Coping Styles Questionnaire (CSQ) and the Crisis Support Scale (CSS). Emotionally, workers and their families were strongly affected by the explosion. The IES-score was 17.6 and the invasion score 9.1. The degree of traumatisation was higher in the group who had an 'audience position' than in the group who was directly hit by the explosion. Training in rescue work did not protect against adverse effects. Rescue work had a strong impact on the involved. Social support was a significant factor, that seems to buffer negative effects. High level of social integration, effective leadership in the situation, and professional crisis intervention characterised the disaster situation. All the same, 41 per cent of the workers reached the caseness criteria by Horowitz (IES > or = 19).
During recent years attention has been drawn to the importance of psychosocial support to victims of accidents and disasters. Post-traumatic stress disorder seems to be more frequent than earlier believed, and early psychosocial assistance is thought to reduce the psychological effects of the traumatic experience. The authors describe the psychosocial work, as it was organized at Haukeland Hospital, after a shipwreck. Experiences with mobile medical teams with stress competence are also discussed.
1,687 registered captains and mates from a Norwegian census in 1970 were monitored up to 1987. By matching the data from the census with data from the Norwegian Cancer Registry we discovered 104 cases of cancer. A control group of 376 was chosen among those without cancer. A nested case-control study design was used. The material was analysed using multivariate logistic regression. Increased risk of developing cancer was found in the group of seamen who had been working on tankers, especially among seamen who had been working as mate on these tankers. Exposure to chemicals is the major factor distinguishing tankers from other ships. Mates are exposed to chemicals while captains are not. The study indicates the presence of carcinogenic agents on these tankers.