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Start > 2008 > Henrik L Hansen, Lise H Laursen, Morten Frydberg, Soeren Kristensen: Major differences in rates of occupational accidents between different nationalities of seafarers

Henrik L Hansen, Lise H Laursen, Morten Frydberg, Soeren Kristensen: Major differences in rates of occupational accidents between different nationalities of seafarers

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.


Address for correspondence:
Dr. H L Hansen,
Medical Office of Health,
Head of Department, National Board of Health, Regional Office for Southern Denmark Sorsigsvej 35, DK-6760 Ribe, Denmark;
E.mail: hlhansen@dadlnet.dk
Phone: +45 7222 7950
Fax: +45 7222 7440

Keywords: Cross-Cultural Comparison, Accidents, Naval medicine

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International Maritime Health
Medical University of Gdansk, Interdepartmental Institute of Maritime and Tropical Medicine
81-519 Gdynia, ul. Powstania Styczniowego 9 B, fax. +48 58 622 3354