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Prospective study of incident injuries among southeastern United States commercial fishermen


Objective The purpose of this study was to describe occupational exposures and the incidence of non-fatal injuries among a group of southeastern US small-scale fishermen.

Methods Participants (n=219) were enrolled in a prospective cohort study and followed from August 1999 to May 2002. Demographic information was obtained at baseline, and weekly and biweekly telephone interviews elicited information on number of days worked, fishery, fishing gear used, maintenance work, glove use and any work-related injury events. Incidence rate ratios (IRR) and 95% CIs were calculated with Poisson regression for each factor and multivariate models controlled for potential confounders.

Results Over a third of participants (81/217) reported 125 injury events over 46 153 work-days for rate of 2.74 per 1000 work-days (95% CI 2.19 to 3.41). The majority of injuries were penetrating wounds to the hand, thumb and finger (35%) or back sprains and strains (8%); most required no medical care or time off work (67%). Injury rates were similar for on and off the water work (1.9 per 1000 work-days). Injury rates differed by fishery, water location and month. Factors associated with an increased injury rate included working on someone else's boat and maintenance work. Glove use was protective.

Conclusion Similar injury characteristics were observed in small-scale fishing as compared to large-scale. For small-scale fishermen, off and on the water work locations, and particularly maintenance work, were important predictors of injury. Despite the protective association for glove use, penetrating wounds to the hand, thumb and finger were common.

  • Back injury
  • occupational exposures
  • epidemiology
  • glove use
  • hand injury
  • injury
  • longitudinal studies
  • maritime OH
  • physical work

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