Medical emergencies at sea and injuries among Scottish fishermen


Lawrie T, Matheson C, Murphy E, Ritchie L & Bond CM (2003) Medical emergencies at sea and injuries among Scottish fishermen. Occupational Medicine, 53 (3), pp. 159-164.

Background. It has long been known that fishing is one of the most dangerous occupations. In 2001, 33 boats were lost and 10 fishermen killed in UK waters. Despite the dangerous nature of the occupation, very little research has been conducted on fishermen's health and safety. Aims. To address this gap in current knowledge, research was conducted to gain an understanding of health and lifestyle issues affecting Scottish fishermen. It was hoped that the study would identify aspects of fishermen's health that could be improved. This paper considers medical emergencies at sea and injuries among fishermen. Methods. Data were collected using a postal questionnaire sent to the Scottish fishermen population and health diaries in a small sub-sample. Results. In total, 1157 usable responses were received, giving a response rate of 57%. One-fifth of respondents had been involved in a medical emergency at sea that required them to be evacuated to shore for immediate treatment. The incidence of injuries was high, and one-third of the injuries experienced were to the back. The likelihood of evacuation for a medical emergency or experiencing an injury was increased both for certain occupations and with increasing number of boats worked on during the fisherman's career. Conclusion. Groups identified as being at a high risk of experiencing medical emergencies or injuries should be targeted in training initiatives or accident awareness and prevention initiatives.

Fishermen; incidence of injuries; high-risk occupation; medical emergency

Occupational Medicine: Volume 53, Issue 3

Publication date31/05/2003
PublisherOxford University Press