Occupational health in the Andalusian Fisheries Sector

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BackgroundThe conditions of work in the fisheries sector are arduous with high rates of occupational accidents. Numerous factors are known that can directly influence the health of the sailor or fisherman both in fishing and merchant fleets.AimTo evaluate the health status, safety and working conditions in the Andalusian fishing sector.MethodsCross-sectional questionnaire study with proportional sampling of the health and lifestyles of fishery workers in 19 of the 23 Andalusian ports.ResultsA total of 247 workers employed on 202 craft fishing boats responded. In all 87% of workers reported a current medical condition. The main problems reported were musculoskeletal disorders, respiratory diseases, diseases of the digestive system, eye problems and skin problems. A total of 72% reported taking some self-prescribed medication, and 60% of fishery workers smoked. Nine per cent of fishery workers admitted taking illicit drugs and 3% reported using illicit drugs on board. Diets on board were poorly balanced. While on board, 62% of crews reported a subjective significant worsening of previous health. The lifetime prevalence of accidents was 76%.ConclusionsFishery workers had a high prevalence of self-reported medical problems, a high prevalence of self-medication, poor diets and frequently smoked. Self-medication and some medical conditions (diabetes, angina and depression) may reflect a potential failing of health checks and pre-employment checks. National health services and insurance companies dealing with occupational health should focus more on appropriate health checks, illness prevention and health promotion activities for this population.

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