Mortality among professional divers in Norway

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BackgroundDiving operations are technically complex, and the underwater environment poses a high risk of fatal or near miss accidents. Furthermore, long-term effects of diving on bone, the central nervous system and the lung have been observed in divers who have not experienced any diving-related accidents.AimsTo compare total and cause-specific mortality among Norwegian professional divers by class of diving certificate, relative to the general population.MethodsData on mortality were obtained for divers in the Norwegian Inshore Diving Registry, which comprises data on all divers with a certificate valid for professional diving after 1980. By August 2010, 5526 male divers born between 1950 and 1990 were identified, 3130 of whom were fully certified professional divers. The rest of the Norwegian male population born in the same period (1 604 147) served as referents. Data on mortality were obtained by linkage to the Cause of Death Registry.ResultsMortality was 23 per 1000 in professional divers and 24 per 1000 in referents. The hazard ratio was 0.79 (confidence interval [CI] 0.63–0.997). Diving-related accidents and suicide were the most common causes of death among divers. Both were significantly more common among divers with the higher level diving certificates.ConclusionsOverall, mortality in professional divers was lower than that of the general population. However, professional divers had a higher risk of dying from work-related accident or suicide.

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