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.
Part of a crew on a Norwegian naval ship was exposed to the radar waves for approximately 7 min from an American destroyer during an incident at sea in August 2012. Information about the exposure was not given by the navy. This is a description of what happened with the crew on board after this event. 14 persons had been on the ship bridge or outside on the deck during the exposure and the rest of the crew had been inside the ship. 27 persons were examined at a hospital 6-8 months after the event, as they had developeda large number of symptoms from different organ systems. They were very worried about all types of possible adverse health effects due to the incident. All were examined by an occupational physician and anophthalmologist, by an interview, clinical examinations and blood tests at the hospital. The interview of the personnel revealed that they had not experienced any major heating during the episode. Their symptoms developed days or weeks after the radar exposure. They had no objective signs of adverse health effects at the examination related to the incident. Long-term health effect from the exposure is highly unlikely. The development of different symptoms after the incident was probably due to the fear of possible health consequences. Better routines for such incidents at sea should be developed to avoid this type of anxiety.
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).