The purpose of the study was to study the circumstances and incidence rates of fatal accidents in inspection obligated and non-inspection obligated Danish fishing vessels to identify areas for prevention. Information about the fatalities came from maritime authority reports, including vessel disaster reports, post mortem reports, maritime inquiries and police reports. The person- and vessel years at risk came from the Danish Directorate of Fisheries. During the period 1989-2005, 114 fatalities occurred. Sixty-one of the fatalities occurred in 36 vessel disasters mainly caused by foundering/capsizing due to stability changes in rough weather and collisions; 39 fatal occupational accidents mainly occurred on the larger inspection obligated trawlers during fishing. In the remaining 14 other fatal accidents, the main causal factors were difficult embarking/disembarking conditions by darkness in foreign ports and alcohol intoxication. In the period 1995-2005, the overall incidence rate was 10 per 10,000 fishermen per year with no down-going trend during that period. The fatal accident rates are still too high, despite the efforts to reduce the risk. Increased focus on regular and repeated safety training for all fishermen and improved safety measures are needed, especially in the underscored areas of sea disasters concerning small vessels and occupational accidents on big vessels. Better registration of time at risk for fishermen is needed to validate the effect of the safety measures.
OBJECTIVES: Earlier studies and statistics have shown that merchant seafarers from the South East Asia had considerable lower accident rates when compared with seafarers from Western Europe. The purposes of the study were to investigate whether the earlier observations were sustained if further sources on occurrence of accidents were used and to identify specific causes of excess accident rates among certain nationalities. METHODS: Occupational accidents aboard Danish merchant ships during one year were identified from four different sources. These included accidents reported to the maritime authorities, accidents reported to a mutual insurance company, files on medical costs reimbursed by the government and finally, accidents in which there has been contact to the radio medical service. Time at risk aboard was obtained from a register on all employment periods aboard merchant ships. RESULTS: A total of 943 accidents causing personal injury to a seafarer directly caused by work aboard were identified. Among these accidents, 499 had taken place aboard cargo ships in international trade. Only these were used in the detailed analysis. The accident rate for all identified accidents aboard cargo ships were 84 accidents per 1,000 years aboard. The crude incidence rate ratio (IRR) for East European seafarers was 0.88 and for South East Asians 0.38 using West European seafarers as reference. In a Poisson regression analysis, the IRR for South East Asians was 0.29 (0.22-0.38). In an analysis including only more serious accidents, IRR for South East Asians rose to 0.36 (0.26-0.48). DISCUSSION: This study indicates that seafarers from South East Asia, mainly the Philippines, may have a genuine lower risk of occupational accidents in comparison with seafarers from Western and Eastern Europe. Differences in approach to safety and risk taking between South East Asian and European seafarers should be identified and positives attitudes included in accident preventing programmes. Main messages Seafarers from South East Asia, mainly the Philippines, seem to have a genuine lower risk of occupational accidents in comparison with seafarers from Western and Eastern Europe. POLICY IMPLICATIONS: Differences in approach to safety and risk taking between South East Asian and European seafarers should be identified and positives attitudes included in accident preventing programmes.
BACKGROUND: Danish seafarers have an excess of life style related diseases where obesity may be a factor. Obesity may in itself be a safety issue at sea. OBJECTIVES: The purpose was to study overweight among male seafarers and determine the consequences if a maximum Body Mass Index (BMI) for seafarers is decided. METHODS: As part of the mandatory pre-employment health examination, height and weight of the seafarers are recorded and BMI calculated. From a register comprising all seafarers, basic information on each individual seafarer was obtained from the last employment period before the health examination. In this study, normal weight is defined as a BMI from 20 and up to 25, moderate overweight from 25 up to 30 and obesity from 30 and above. RESULTS: The study comprised 1257 male seafarers. There were statistically significant more overweight seafarers in all age groups compared to a reference group ashore. Among those between 45 and 66 years of age 0.7% had a weight below normal, 22.7% had normal weight and 76.6% had a weight above normal, while 30.9% of this age group was obese. CONCLUSION: The method is applicable as a tool for an objective description of seafarers' health profile in a national and an international perspective. Overweight is found to be common and may influence the health of the seafarers and shipboard safety. Fixed BMI limits for seafarers on Danish ships would result in loss of license and that would have major implications even if the limit is set high.
For centuries, tuberculosis has been identified as a burden to seafarers. In this study, we assessed the magnitude of tuberculosis among merchant seafarers today. Furthermore, we identified the most likely routes of M. tuberculosis transmission by the use of DNA fingerprinting. A database containing all culture-positive tuberculosis cases in Denmark in 1992-2003 was combined with a register on all seafarers and their employment periods aboard Danish ships. All strains of M. tuberculosis were analysed using DNA-subtyping. 64 cases of culture positive tuberculosis among seafarers were identified. The risk of tuberculosis among males was 1.51 (1.10-2.01) compared with the general population. Two of the 64 cases were likely to be shipping-related, 5 were possibly shipping-related, and 10 were less likely to be shipping-related. The remaining 47 cases were very unlikely to be shipping related. Including the 2 first categories, the incidence was 0.09 cases per 1000 y at sea. The excess risk of tuberculosis among active and former Danish seafarers is most probably due to infections acquired in Denmark. Despite multi-cultural crews aboard, including many from high-incidence countries, our study indicates that only limited transmission of M. tuberculosis takes place among crew aboard modern ships or during shore leaves.