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The Mortality and Morbidity of Deep Sea Fishermen Sailing from Grimsby in One Year

S. R. W. Moore
British Journal of Industrial Medicine
Vol. 26, No. 1 (Jan., 1969), pp. 25-46
Published by: BMJ
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/27722381
Page Count: 22
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The Mortality and Morbidity of Deep Sea Fishermen Sailing from Grimsby in One Year
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Abstract

The injuries, illnesses, and deaths of Grimsby deep sea fishermen in the year 1963 have been studied using the trawler log-book as the basic source of information. Additional information has been obtained from other sources. The numbers of man-days sailed by Grimsby deep sea fishermen, by age and rating in 1963, have been ascertained. From these, incapacity rates for the measurement of morbidity due to injury and illness, and the mortality rate, have been calculated. There were 14 deaths, six due to accidental causes and eight to natural causes, giving a mortality rate of 5·7 per 1,000 for Grimsby deep sea fishermen in 1963. In a year when there was no foundering or loss of Grimsby trawlers, the fatal accident rate of Grimsby trawlermen was more than twice that of fishermen of the United Kingdom, four times the rate for miners, and 40 times that for the manufacturing industries. The most common injuries were, in order of incidence, contusions of varying degrees of severity, infected lesions, sprains and strains, lacerations, and fractures. More than half (56·3%) of the trawlermen were incapacitated by their injuries. The highest rates of incapacity were caused by fractures, contusions, and infected lesions. The upper limb, especially the hands and fingers, was most often affected, resulting most commonly in infected lesions. Third hands, mates, deck hands, deck trimmers, and deck learners had the highest incapacity rates due to injury. Third hands are especially at risk to injury. Most injuries and two deaths caused by casualties to boats occurred in fires aboard trawlers. The most common illnesses suffered by trawlermen were gastrointestinal, respiratory, and skin diseases. Illness caused incapacity in 68·8% of the trawlermen affected. The greatest incapacity was due to gastrointestinal, cardiac, psychiatric, and respiratory illness, and firemen, third-hands, and cooks had the highest rates of incapacity. Of the illnesses said to be peculiar to fishermen, Dogger Bank itch and erysipeloid did not affect Grimsby trawlermen. Unfit deep sea fishermen go to sea, even when so certified by a medical officer, thus possibly endangering themselves and other members of the crew. The injuries which give rise to the highest morbidity and mortality in deep sea fishermen are primarily due to accidental causes. The following measures are suggested to reduce the toll on deep sea fishermen. (1) The establishment of an occupational health service for trawlermen, with compulsory pre-employment and periodic examinations, would help to prevent unfit men going to sea and ensure that those sailing were of good health and not a liability to their fellows. The Medical Examination (Fishermen) Convention, 1959, of the International Labour Organization should be ratified by the United Kingdom. (2) Protective gloves of good quality should be worn. Careful attention should be given to cleaning the gloves, frequent washing of the hands, and early first-aid treatment. (3) The warps and winch should be adequately guarded. More attention should be given by marine engineers to making trawl apparatus safer for those who have to use it. (4) All existing vessels should be adapted as nearly as possible to meet the safety requirements of the proposed code of safety practice of the International Labour Organization, and all new vessels should comply fully with the requirements. (5) The trawler is an unstable vessel, adding to the difficulties of handling heavy apparatus. The risk of accident is greatly increased in bad weather. Fishing in high gale-force winds should be prohibited. (6) Most accidents occur in the man-handling of apparatus over the side of the trawler, a method which has changed little since the days of the sailing ship. The building of the conventional side trawler should be discontinued in favour of the stern trawler. (7) Accidents on board ship should be notifiable, properly recorded, and thoroughly investigated. Safety officers should be appointed. Legislative measures should be introduced, similar to those which promote the safety of the shore worker. (8) There should be an accident prevention campaign, with attention specially directed towards the new entrant to the industry.

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