Vol 71, No 1 (2020)
Original article
Published online: 2020-03-21

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Temporary and permanent unfitness of occupational divers. Brest Cohort 2002–2019 from the French National Network for Occupational Disease Vigilance and Prevention (RNV3P)

Richard Pougnet123, Laurence Pougnet245, Jean-Dominique Dewitte123, Brice Loddé126, David Lucas126
Pubmed: 32212151
IMH 2020;71(1):71-77.


Background: In France, the monitoring of professional divers is regulated. Several learned societies (French Occupational Medicine Society, French Hyperbaric Medicine Society and French Maritime Medicine Society) have issued follow-up recommendations for professional divers, including medical follow-up. Medical decisions could be temporary unfitness for diving, temporary fitness with monitoring, a restriction of fitness, or permanent unfitness. The aim of study was to point out the causes of unfitness in our centre.

Materials and methods: The divers’ files were selected from the French National Network for Occupational Disease Vigilance and Prevention (RNV3P). Only files with a special medical decision were selected, between 2002 and 2019.

Results: Three hundred and ninety-six professional divers are followed-up in our centre and 1371 medical decisions were delivered. There were 29 (7.3%) divers with a special medical decision, during 42 (3.1%) medical visit. Twelve (3.0%) had a permanent unfitness. The leading cause of unfitness was pulmonary diseases: emphysema (3), chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder (2), asthma (2). Sixteen (4.0%) divers had temporary unfitness. The leading causes were cardiovascular (4 times) and neurological (6 times). Twelve (3.0%) divers had had at least one decompression sickness.

Conclusions: Judgments of permanent unfitness for diving were rare (3.0% of divers), but were because of life-threatening disease. Medical follow-up of occupational divers was justified to decrease the risk of fatal event during occupational dives.

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