What are the causes of work-related drowning?

Updated: Jun 19, 2019
  • Author: G Patricia Cantwell, MD, FCCM; Chief Editor: Joe Alcock, MD, MS  more...
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A Danish occupational medical study of 114 drowning fatalities in the period 1989-2005 among fishing industry seamen found that approximately one half of the deaths occurred during vessel disasters in rough weather, with capsizing and foundering, or collisions. One third occurred during other occupational accidents that caused the victim to go overboard. One third occurred when the victim underwent difficult disembarkation during nighttime hours in foreign ports or was intoxicated. [41]

A Swedish study emphasized the contribution of alcohol and drugs to drowning deaths and the importance of considering such information in developing prevention programs. Although the number of drowning deaths has significantly decreased, men and middle aged and older people had a higher incidence. Among women, suicidal drowning was common. [42]

A Canadian study of drowning during work-related and recreational helicopter crashes over water found that educational strategies to increase survival likelihood included wearing survival gear during the trip, prior escape training, ensuring that crew and passengers possessed appropriate knowledge of escape routes, and assuming appropriate crash positioning. They suggested that companies using helicopter transport over water should focus on regular and repeated safety training and improvement in safety measures on helicopters. [43]

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