Medical emergencies at sea and injuries among Scottish fishermen

Thane Lawrie, Catriona Isobel Matheson, Elizabeth Murphy, Lewis Duthie Ritchie, Christine Margaret Bond

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20 Citations (Scopus)


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.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)159-164
Number of pages5
JournalOccupational Medicine
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2003


  • fishermen
  • incidence of injuries
  • high-risk occupation
  • medical emergency


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