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During the last 20 years, the number of occupational accidents and occupational diseases reported in merchant shipping has remained relatively stable: approximately two reports per 100 active seafarers per year. These figures include only those occupational accidents and occupational diseases that resulted in time off sick or death. In recent years, the most common occupational diseases have been linked to exposure to noise, chemical and biological substances and RSI factors. The results could be interpreted as a stagnation in developments toward a safer working environment during the last 20 years and traditional measures no longer producing their intended effect, i.e. to further reduce the number of occupational accidents and diseases. Unfortunately there is no great certainty in the reliability of the statistics. This is due to the tendency to report injuries and diseases being affected by changes in the economy, the structure of the national insurance system, changes to procedures for applying for compensation for occupational injuries and investigations of occupational injuries. Nevertheless, the figures indicate that occupational accidents and diseases among seafarers are twice as common as in other occupations. We may ask the question how much influence the work environment law and developments in regulations over the past 20 years have had.

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