Background: The aim of the study was to examine occupational accidents reported from non-passenger merchant ships registered in the Danish International Ship Register in 2010-2012, with a focus on analysing nationality differences in the risk of getting injured in an accident. Methods: Data about notified occupational accidents were collected from notifications sent to the Danish Maritime Authority and from records of contact with Danish Radio Medical. Events were matched by personal identification and accident data to create a unified database. Stratified cumulative time spent on board by seafarers was used to calculate accident rates. Incidence rates of different nationalities were compared by Poisson regression. Results: Western European seafarers had an overall accident rate of 17.5 per 100000 person-days, which proved to be significantly higher than that of Eastern European, South East Asian and Indian seaman (adjusted incidence rate ratio 0.53, 0.51 and 0.74, respectively), although differences decreased over the investigated period. Smaller but in most cases still significant discrepancies were observed for serious injuries. The back injury rate of Western European employees was found especially high, while eye injuries seem to be more frequent among South East Asian workers. Conclusions: The study identified substantial differences between nationalities in the rate of various accidents reported from merchant ships sailing under the Danish flag. The differences may be attributed to various factors such as safety behaviour. Investigation of special injury types and characterisation of effective elements of safety culture can contribute to the improvement of workplace safety in the maritime sector.
Journal of Occupational Medicine and Toxicology (london), 2014, Vol 9, Issue 35, p. 1-8