Vol 67, No 3 (2016)
Original article
Published online: 2016-09-27

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Occupational injuries and diseases among commercial fishers in Finland 1996–2015

Kim O. Kaustell, Tiina E. A. Mattila, Risto H. Rautiainen
Pubmed: 27681217
IMH 2016;67(3):163-170.


Background: Commercial fishing is recognised as one of the most hazardous professions worldwide. In Finland, commercial fishing has some special characteristics, including fishing on ice during frozen waters, and pluriactivity of the fisher family to gain additional income. The goal of this study was to describe injury characteristics among commercial fishers in Finland during the years 1996–2015. With this information, we wish to promote creation of effective safety campaigns and interventions.

Materials and methods: The data for this study was acquired from The Farmers’ Social Insurance Institution, who handles the mandatory pension and occupational injury insurance of Finnish commercial fishers. Descriptive statistics was used to categorise and analyse the data that comprised the anonymized insurance history of 1954 insured fishers and reports on 1135 compensated injuries, 11 fatalities, and 53 occupational disease cases.

Results: The results show, that the injury rate of Finnish commercial fishers is high. Forty per cent of the fishing-related injuries occur aboard or when entering or leaving the vessel, while 37% happened ashore, and 11% on sea or lake ice. The most common type of incident is preceded by a slip, trip, or sway followed by a fall to lower level. The injuries result in a median disability length of 21 days. An elevated risk for Finnish (vs. Swedish) speaking, as well as for male fishers was found. The occupational diseases of the studied population were for the most part results of manual, repetitive and/or physically straining work due to e.g. hauling in fishing equipment. Due to small numbers and lack of case data, it is not possible to make any further analysis of the 11 fatalities, which were all drownings.

Conclusions: Based on our findings, injury prevention should be targeted, besides preventing fatalities because of drowning, at mitigating the risks for slips, trips, and falls both aboard and ashore.

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