Drowning is an occupational safety problem around the world. Any maritime occupation, including commercial fishing, commercial diving, and water transportation workers are exposed to drowning hazards. In many cases, particularly with commercial fishermen and water transportation workers, the vessel is not only the workplace, but also often their home while they spend weeks at a time at sea. A diligent search for national and international occupational drowning data was not successful. Data are not reported internationally for overall occupational drownings. Extensive research, however, has been conducted on drowning prevention and commercial fishing safety throughout the commercial fishing industry. In the commercial fishing industry alone it is estimated that 25-40 million people are employed worldwide. Fatality rates have been reported from different countries ranging from 45.8/100,000 per year (Canada 1975-1983) to as high as 414.6/100,000 per year (Alaska, US, 1980-1988). The International Labor Organization's Occupational Safety and Health Branch estimates that 24,000 fatalities occur worldwide per year in fisheries. Studies have shown that drowning, presumed drowned and hypothermia are the predominant causes of death among commercial fishermen (91% in Canada, 88% in Alaska, and 78% in Ireland).
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