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Friday, 16 August, 2002, 00:21 GMT 01:21 UK
Fishing 'most dangerous job'
Fishing trawlers
Of every 100,000 fishermen, 103 will die at work
Fishermen and merchant seafarers have by far the most dangerous jobs in Britain, according to experts.

A study by researchers at Oxford University has found people working on the sea are up to 50 times more likely to die while working, compared those in other jobs.

Their jobs are much more hazardous than those in the construction or manufacturing industries and also a lot less safe than working for the police, army or fire brigade.

Most dangerous jobs
1. Fishermen
2. Merchant seafarers
3. Aircraft flight deck officers
4. Railway lengthmen
5. Scaffolders
6. Roofers and glaziers
7. Forestry workers
8. Quarry and other mine workers
9. Dockers and stevedores
10. Lorry drivers
The researchers said their findings highlighted the need for urgent action to reduce the risks of working on the sea.

Dr Stephen Roberts analysed official death statistics from a range of different professions between 1976 and 1995.

He found that 103 in every 100,000 fishermen died while working. This is 50 times higher than other workers.

The vast majority of these deaths were from drowning. However, there were also a sizeable proportion of lives lost as a result of injury and asphyxiation.

Figures for merchant seafarers showed 52 per 100,000 died while working.

A large number of these deaths were attributed to trawlers foundering in adverse weather.

However, a significant proportion was linked to collisions and groundings.

Safe jobs

The figures compare to rates of just 2 per 100,000 for the rest of Britain's working population.

The safest jobs, according to the study, are those in the service sector which has death rates of 0.7 per 100,000 workers.

Writing in The Lancet Dr Roberts said his findings backed up previous studies.

He said: "Trawler fishing and merchant seafaring are still the two most dangerous occupations in Britain."

Dr Roberts said the unique challenges of working on the sea were to blame for the high death rates.

"Trawler fishermen have to contend with unique occupational and weather-related hazards. These, together with economic pressures, often make this industry unreceptive to the introduction of safety measures."

But he added: "Prevention efforts should be directed, most importantly, towards reduction of hazardous working practices in trawler fishing.

"In particular, they should be aimed at the unnecessary operation of small trawlers and net manoeuvres in hazardous weather and sea conditions."

Safety campaigns

The Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) said it was working to reduce deaths on the seas.

A spokeswoman told BBC News Online: "The MCA is well aware that fishing and seafaring are by far the most dangerous jobs in Britain.

"We do targeted campaigns year on year looking at different aspects of safety to try and make fishermen aware of the risks and to enable them to help themselves."

Click here to go to Oxford
See also:

25 Jan 01 | In Depth
12 Jan 00 | Scotland
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