This study examined the mortality among shipbreaking workers from 1985 to 1997, after the shipbreaking industry was banned in 1985-1986. The study cohort consisted of men including 2,850 flame cutters, 871 lifters, 240 odd-jobbers and 225 other workers registered in 1985 at Kaohsiung Shipbreaking Workers Union. Mortality (n=336) data examined were obtained from the Vital Statistics Registry from January 1985 to December 1997. The standardized mortality ratio (SMR) and logistic regression were used to estimate the risk of mortality from neoplasms, injuries and other causes. Compared to the local reference population, the deaths that were significantly higher than the expected numbers among all workers included deaths from all cumulative causes (SMR=1.11, 95% confidence interval (CI)=1.00-1.23), and deaths from external causes of injury and poisoning (SMR=1.75, 95% CI =1.47-2.09). Flame cutters in the youngest group, on the other hand, had very significant excess deaths from nasopharynx neoplasm (SMR=5.2, 95% CI=1.7-16.2) and pleural neoplasm (SMR=104.1, 95% CI=14.0-739.0). Based on logistic regression analysis controlling for age, lifters was about 5.1 more likely times than flame cutters to die from accidental falls. This study suggests that former shipbreaking workers are more likely to be at higher risk of injuries and the young flame cutters are at higher risk from neoplasms.
2003 by the Japan Society for Occupational Health