Research Article

Risk of fatal accidents occurring other than at sea among Icelandic seamen.

BMJ 1993; 306 doi: (Published 22 May 1993) Cite this as: BMJ 1993;306:1379
  1. V Rafnsson,
  2. H Gunnarsdóttir
  1. Department of Occupational Medicine, Administration of Occupational Safety and Health, Reykjavik, Iceland.


    OBJECTIVE--To study mortality among seamen, particularly from fatal accidents that occurred other than at sea. DESIGN--Cohort study. SETTING--Iceland. SUBJECTS--27,884 seamen, both fishermen and sailors from the merchant fleet, who had been members of a pension fund from 1958 to 1986. MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES--Cause of death (ICD seventh revision), standardised mortality ratio. RESULTS--Most standardised mortality ratios were greater than 1, being 1.26 for all causes and 1.83 for all external causes. There was no healthy worker effect. The excess of deaths from all external causes included all subcategories of death from accidents, poisonings, and violence and not just accidents at sea (water transport accidents, ICD codes E850-E858). A significant trend was found for length of employment and mortality from all accidents at sea, drowning at sea, accidental poisoning, other accidents, and accidental drowning; correlation coefficients for all causes, all accidents, suicide, and injuries undetermined whether accidentally or purposely inflicted were 0.7-0.8. Compared with seamen who started work during 1968-77, those who started work in 1978 or later had higher mortality from all causes, road traffic accidents, poisoning, other accidents, homicide, and injuries unknown whether accidentally or purposely inflicted, but not from all accidents at sea and accidental drowning. CONCLUSION--Seamen seem to be a special group with a high risk of fatal accidents occurring not only at sea. The association between fatal accidents other than at sea and length of employment as seamen indicates that seamen are modified by their occupation towards hazardous behaviour or a risky lifestyle.