Much that is constructive can be achieved from analysis of death investigations that have failed to achieve desirable outcomes in terms of learning lessons about risks to health and safety and in terms of gaining an understanding as to how further tragedies can be avoided. This article reviews an "inquest" into the sinking in 1628 of the pride of the Swedish Navy, the Vasa, and the factors that led to the inquest failing to come to grips with the various design, building, oversight, subcontracting, communication, and co-ordination flaws that contributed to the vessel being foreseeably unstable and thus unseaworthy. It argues that Reason's Swiss cheese analysis of systemic contributions to risk and modern principles of Anglo-Australasian-Canadian death investigation shed light on how a better investigation of the tragedy that cost 30 lives and a disastrous loss of a vessel of unparalleled cost to the Kingdom of Sweden could have led to more useful insights into the multifactorial causes of the sinking of the Vasa than were yielded by the inquest.
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.
With 852 victims from 17 different countries, the sinking of the Estonia was Europe's most severe passenger ferry disaster. The Finnish Disaster Victim Identification (DVI) team identified all 93 victims recovered from the sea within 33 days of the accident as well as victim number 94 found 18 months later. Dental identification was established in 57 cases (60%).
OBJECTIVES: The aim of the present historical cohort study was to enhance the understanding of the unusual mortality pattern seen among seafarers. The main object was to describe the mortality pattern of Danish seafarers in recent years with special reference to the influence of accidents in the maritime workplace and ashore and the influence of diseases related to lifestyle. SUBJECTS: A cohort of 24,132 male seafarers of all job categories employed on a Danish merchant ship between 1986 and 1993, was followed up. Mortality among those who left the occupation before the end of the follow-up period was analysed separately. RESULTS: The standardized mortality ratio was 1.43 (95% CI: 1.33-1.54) from all causes and 3.05 (95% CI: 2.62-3.52) from accidents. An excess mortality from natural causes was attributable mostly to an excess among deck and engine room crew and was mainly caused by diseases related to lifestyle. While active as seafarers, the SMR for accidents was 2.62 (95% CI: 2.12-3.20), accidents at the workplace explaining almost half the deaths. Among those who left shipping, the risk of fatal accidents increased. All categories of seafarers continued to have a high risk of fatal accidents into older age. CONCLUSION: Merchant seafarers were shown to have a higher mortality than the general population. Despite a very high risk of fatal accidents in the workplace, these accidents could only explain a proportion of the observed excess mortality. Accidents ashore and diseases related to lifestyle factors such as drinking and smoking made a major contribution to the observed excess mortality. The results indicate that people in occupations with a high risk of fatal accidents at the workplace also seem to have a high risk of accidents away from the workplace after leaving the occupation. The high risk lifestyle seems to be linked to lifestyle in general and hence the related diseases and high risk of death.
In this study, the authors investigated mortality and cancer patterns among a group of individuals accidentally exposed to methyl chloride 32 y earlier. This group of 24 persons had survived the immediate intoxication, which had occurred on a trawler during a fishing trip. The authors selected a reference group, which contained five times as many individuals as the study group, from registers of crews, and they controlled for age, occupation, social class, and lifestyle factors. The authors established a record linkage through personal identification numbers with the national death register and cancer register, thus securing 100% follow-up. The Mantel-Haenszel point estimate (M-H) was 2.2, and the 95% confidence interval (CI) was 1.3-3.1 for all causes of death. There was an excess of deaths from cardiovascular diseases (M-H = 2.1, 95% CI = 1.2-3.8). This excess mortality was more prominent among deckhands who had been subject to higher exposure; risk ratios (RRs) were elevated for all causes of death (RR = 2.5, 95% CI = 1.0-5.7), as well as for cardiovascular diseases (RR = 3.9, 95% CI = 1.0-14.4). In addition, the authors noted elevated risks for all cancers (M-H = 1.5, 95% CI = 0.3-5.6) and for lung cancer (M-H = 2.7, 95% CI = 0.1-52.6). The authors concluded that exposure to methyl chloride may have contributed to the risk of cardiovascular disease. Investigators need to conduct further studies on groups exposed to methyl chloride to refute or confirm this result.
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. Several studies demonstrate a high mortality among seamen but this has not been related to different types of work on board. This study examined a possible relationship between work on tankers and mortality. Tankers differ from other ships by carrying different types of oil, oil products and other chemicals. METHODS. Mortality was studied in 1687 men who were captains and mates during the period 1970-1987, and were registered by a Norwegian census in 1970. The data were linked to the Norwegian Register of Death Certificates. In all 181 deaths were found. Each case was age-matched at time of death to three individuals from the rest of the population alive at this date. Information about the seamen's work on different ships was obtained for cases and controls. The data were analysed using multivariate conditional logistic regression. RESULTS. Seamen working on tankers had a higher mortality rate ratio (RR = 2.43, 95% confidence interval [CI]: 1.65-3.60) than seamen who had not been working on tankers. The increased risk was especially related to death from cancer and from accidents, while no significantly increased mortality due to cardiovascular diseases was found. Employment as a mate on tankers showed the highest all-causes risk of death (RR = 3.14, 95% CI: 2.04-4.82) as well as for cancer (RR = 4.24, 95% CI: 2.02-8.88) and accidents (RR = 5.85, 95% CI: 1.66-20.60). Employment as a captain on tankers showed no significantly increased mortality. CONCLUSION. Exposure to chemicals on tankers may be related to the increased mortality, as this is the major difference between tankers and other ships and mates are exposed to chemical agents, while captains are not.
BACKGROUND: Although commercial fishing has become established as the most hazardous occupation in Western countries, relatively little has been reported on mortality from disease among fishermen. OBJECTIVE: To investigate the causes of work-related mortality from disease in the UK fishing industry from 1948 to 2005, trends in mortality over time and how it varies according to the sector of the fishing industry, to investigate non-work related mortality among fishermen ashore, and to compare it with that in other populations. METHODS: Examination of paper death inquiry files, death registers and death returns, as well as GIS mapping for a defined population of 1.45 million fishermen-years at risk. RESULTS: From 1948 to 2005, there were a total of 449 work-related deaths from disease identified in the UK fishing industry, with a corresponding mortality rate of 30.9 per 100,000. The mortality rate increased from about 35 per 100,000 in the late 1940s to 60 in the early/mid 1970s but fell sharply to about 10 by the late 1970s. Most of the deaths were caused by ischaemic heart disease followed by other circulatory diseases, respiratory and gastrointestinal diseases. The highest mortality rates were identified for fishermen employed on board distant water trawlers, particularly those operating in Arctic waters. CONCLUSIONS: The study shows that fishermen in distant water trawlers, particularly in Arctic conditions, have the highest risks of mortality from disease. The high risks presumably reflect lifestyle risk factors as well as extremely hazardous and stressful working and sleeping conditions.
This cohort study investigated mortality patterns in Danish commercial fishermen between 1970 and 1985, compared to all economically active men. The population census in 1970 in Denmark was the source of information on individual occupation, age and economic status. Computerised linkage with the Danish Mortality Register gave information about deceased persons' date and cause of death. Standarised mortality ratio (SMR) for all causes among crew members was 1.50; 95% confidence intervals (95% CI) 1.34-1.65) highest in the age group 20-34 years (SMR = 2.09, 95% CI 1.68-2.58). The increased SMR among fishermen was primarity due to deaths by accident other than road accidents (SMR = 5.76, 95% CI = 3.09-7.46), ischemic heart disease (SMR = 1.27, 95% CI, 1.01-1.57) and causes without information (SMR = 6.44 95% CI 4.31-9.27). SMR due to bronchitis and emphysema among 35-64 years old crew members was 1.96, 95% CI 1.01-3.45. Among skippers, the SMR for all causes was 1.12, 95% CI 1.03-1.20). The study confirms earlier findings of a high mortality among fishermen, especially due to accidents, and a slightly increased risk of dying from cancer, respiratory and cardiovascular diseases.