Wage and salary earners’ accidents at work

The risk of fatal accidents at work fell clearly

A total of 26 fatal accidents at work occurred to wage and salary earners in 2009. The number of fatal accidents at work fell slightly from the year before, as in 2008 accidents at work resulted in the death of 30 wage and salary earners. It should be noted that accidents in work traffic cannot always be separated from commuting accidents when settling claims. For this reason, some of the accidents that occur in work traffic are recorded as commuting accidents. The number of accidents at work in traffic has decreased from the early 1990s. (Appendix Table 1).

The risk of fatal accidents at work fell clearly. In 2009, an average of 1.2 per 100,000 wage and salary earners died in an accident at work (Figure 1). The respective figure was 1.4 in 2008. This means a fall of good one tenth relative to the risk of fatal accidents at work (14.3%). The difference between genders with regard to fatal accidents at work is still clear: 22 of the 26 fatal accidents at work occurred to men and four to women. Fatal accidents at work concentrated on certain industries: seven out of ten fatal accidents at work occurred in the activities of manufacturing (industry category C), construction (F), wholesale and retail trade (G), and transportation and storage (H) (Appendix Table 2). The risk of death at work has conventionally been particularly high in the construction industry. In 2009, there were 4.5 fatal accidents at work per 100,000 wage and salary earners in construction. In the industry of transport and storage the risk of fatal accidents at work was 4.7. In the activity of wholesale and retail trade, on average, 2.3 per 100,000 wage and salary earners wage and salary earners had a fatal accident at work (see Table 14).

The data by industry are based on the revised Standard Industrial Classification TOL 2008, which was adopted in the occupational accident statistics in the statistical reference year 2008. The data classified by the revised industrial classification are not comparable with those produced by its predecessor TOL 2002 (this applies to data from the reference year 2007 and prior to it).

Figure 1. Wage and salary earners' fatal accidents at work per 100,000 wage and salary earners in 1996–2009

Figure 1. Wage and salary earners' fatal accidents at work per 100,000 wage and salary earners in 1996–2009

The number and risk of wage and salary earners' accidents at work fell drastically

The number of wage and salary earners’ accidents at work was clearly lower in 2009 than one year earlier. In 2009 wage and salary earners had 42,979 accidents at work causing disability of at least four days. This was 10,981 accidents, or one fifth, fewer than in 2008 (-20.4%). Farmers’ accidents at work decreased by around 400 from the year before, and the number of accidents suffered by other self-employed people also fell slightly (Figure 2). It must, however, be noted that the accident insurance is voluntary for self-employed persons, so the number of accidents at work may also indicate the popularity of insurance among self-employed persons. Around 40 per cent of self-employed persons are insured against accidents at work.

Figure 2. Changes in the number of accidents at work by status in employment in 2000–2009

Figure 2. Changes in the number of accidents at work by status in employment in 2000–2009

The risk of accidents at work has been falling among Finnish wage and salary earners since the late 1990s (Figure 3). This becomes evident when the number of accidents is expressed as a proportion of 100,000 wage and salary earners. The accident incidence rate fell by some 14 per cent between 1998 and 2004. In 2009, a total of 2,008 accidents at work resulting in disability of at least four days occurred per 100,000 wage and salary earners. The corresponding ratio in 2008 was 2,428, which means that the risk of accidents at work fell by one fifth (-17.3%). The accident incidence rate is used to measure variation in the risks of accidents in different industries and occupational groups.

Figure 3. Accidents at work per 100,000 salary and wage earners in 1996–2009

Figure 3. Accidents at work per 100,000 salary and wage earners in 1996–2009

Accidents at work are still a problem among men: seven in ten accidents at work (66.7%) occur to men. Men’s risk of accidents at work has conventionally been clearly higher than that of women. Measured with the accident incidence rate, men’s risk of suffering accidents at work is nearly 2.5-fold when compared to women. The key reason for this is that more men than women work in industries and have jobs with a higher than average risk of accidents at work.

Table 1. Wage and salary earners' accidents at work by gender and age in 2009

   Age    Total     Males        Females       
  N % N % N %
Total 42 979 100 29 471 100 13 508 100
             
15–24 5 110 11,9 3 540 12,0 1 570 11,6
25–34 9 667 22,5 7 190 24,4 2 477 18,3
35–44 9 847 22,9 6 933 23,5 2 914 21,6
45–54 11 162 26,0 7 405 25,1 3 757 27,8
55–64 6 956 16,2 4 247 14,4 2 709 20,1
Others 237 0,6 156 0,5 81 0,6

Men's risk of accidents at work is highest among the youngest age group (aged 15 to 24). In 2009, young men had 3,001 accidents at work resulting in at least four days’ absence from work per 100,000 wage and salary earners (Figure 4). This meant that the risk measured with the accident incidence rate was more than five per cent higher than the average for wage and salary earner men. On the other hand, the risk of accidents at work among young men fell by over one quarter from the previous year (-28.8%). For all male wage and salary earners the risk of accidents at work fell by nearly one fifth (-19.1%). Unlike for men, women's risk of accidents is the highest among the oldest age group, that is, among those aged 55 to 64. Differences between age groups are, however, fairly small for women. Overall, the risk lowers almost steadily with increasing age. The picture of the occupational accident situation by gender given by the accident incidence rate has remained nearly unchanged from one year to the next.

Figure 4. Wage and salary earners’ accidents at work per 100,000 wage and salary earners by gender and age in 2009

Figure 4. Wage and salary earners’ accidents at work per 100,000 wage and salary earners by gender and age in 2009

Building construction is still the riskiest

When measured with accident frequency, industries with a high risk of accidents at work in 2009 were manufacture of wood and of products of wood (31.1), construction (30.3) and manufacture of food products (29.1). Table 5 lists the industries with a higher than average (12.9) accident frequency. The frequencies have been calculated from accidents at work resulting in disability of at least four days, fatal accidents excluded. Municipal sector employees have been classified into their own class, as information on their industry is missing from the accidents at work data files. Wage and salary earners in the municipal sector had 9.9 accidents at work per one million hours worked in 2009, while one year previously their accident frequency was 10.2.

Figure 5. Wage and salary earners’ accidents at work per one million working hours by branch of industry in 2009, accident frequency higher than average

Figure 5. Wage and salary earners’ accidents at work per one million working hours by branch of industry in 2009, accident frequency higher than average

As with the accident incidence rate, the accident risk measured with the accident frequency has been falling steadily from the late 1990s. In the previous year, 2008, the accident frequency in all industries totalled 15.1.

The examination by occupation (Figure 6) shows that the accident risk continues to be highest in the occupational group of building construction, where it is over four times as high as the average. In 2009 building construction workers had 8,404 accidents at work resulting in disability of at least four days per 100,000 wage and salary earners. One year earlier, this accident incidence rate was 10,330. The accident risk measured by the accident incidence rate thus fell by nearly one fifth (-18.6%) compared with the previous year.

Building construction was followed by food industry work (7,118), agricultural work (6,170) and mechanical engineering and construction metal work (5,284). Figure 6 lists the occupational groups with a higher than average risk of accidents at work. On average, 2,008 accidents at work resulting in disability of at least four days occurred per 100,000 wage and salary earners. As in the previous years, the number of accidents at work was highest in different occupational groups in manufacturing.

Figure 6. Wage and salary earners’ accidents at work per 100,000 wage and salary earners by occupation in 2009, accident rate higher than average

Figure 6. Wage and salary earners’ accidents at work per 100,000 wage and salary earners by occupation in 2009, accident rate higher than average

The accident frequency is a more accurate measure of risk than the accident incidence rate, as it expresses the number of accidents as a proportion of the time (hours worked) during which wage and salary earners were exposed to accidents at work. The hours worked, that is, the time of being exposed to accidents at work can, however, vary from person to person.

Previously Statistics Finland’s occupational accident statistics calculated the accident incidence rate by expressing the accidents at work resulting in at least three days' absence from work as a proportion to 1,000 wage and salary earners. The key figures have been harmonised nationally and in accordance with the Eurostat practice. The accident incidence rate is now expressed as the number of accidents at work resulting in disability of at least four days per 100,000 persons in the reference population. The accident frequency is expressed as the proportion of accidents at work resulting in at least four days' absence from work of one million hours worked. The data on the number of wage and salary earners and their hours worked are obtained from Statistics Finland’s Labour Force Survey.

ESAW variables describing the circumstances and manner of accidents at work among wage and salary earners

In 2003, a revised form for reporting accidents at work was introduced in Finland and used for the first time to collect data on the circumstances and manner of accidents at work consistent with the European Statistics on Accidents at Work (ESAW). These data are now published for the seventh time in Statistics Finland’s occupational accident statistics for 2009. Compared with the previous year’s statistics the distributions of variables are similar and thus appear fairly reliable. Eurostat’s project is ambitious and the data to be collected are quite detailed in places, which is why the data presented here provide a comprehensive picture of the circumstances having prevailed when the accident at work took place as well as of their causes and consequences.

The Member States are allowed to exercise discretion as to the scope of their data collection. In Finland the data on accidents at work are collected by the key ESAW variables, and for some of them data are collected at the main category level only. The data are given according to the incidence process of the accident at work, so that the prevailing circumstances are described first, then the progress of the event and finally the consequences of the accident. Categories have been combined in some of the variables due to presentation reasons. The text section presents mainly distributions by gender and the appended table section distributions by other background variables, such as industry and occupation. In addition to this, data are given based only on the national classification. Such data are e.g. the data on the variable describing the direct cause of the accident at work (see Table 7). An indication that they are in line with the joint European statistics on accidents at work is given in the tables and figures based on the ESAW statistics.

Most accidents occur when the person is moving

Data are first given about the general circumstances prior to the accident at work. The first ESAW variable describes the working process the wage and salary earner was involved in when the accident occurred. However, the working process does not refer the person’s occupation, because the tasks may vary at different times in the same occupation. Nearly one third (29.9%) of men’s accidents at work occurred in working processes related to production, manufacturing, processing or storing. Almost one half (48.8%) of women's accidents at work took place in working processes related to public or private services (Table 2).

Table 2. Wage and salary earners’ accidents at work by gender and working process in 2009

Working process      Total        Males        Females      
  N % N % N %
Total 42 979 100 29 471 100 13 508 100
             
10 Production, manufacturing, processing, storing 10 756 25,0 8 822 29,9 1 934 14,3
20 Excavation, construction, repair, demolition 3 983 9,3 3 875 13,1 103 0,8
30 Agricultural type work, forestry, horticulture, fish farming, work with live animals 1 443 3,4 828 2,8 613 4,5
40 Services provided to enterprise and/or to the general public; intellectual activity 8 605 20,0 2 016 6,8 6 589 48,8
50 Other work related to tasks coded under 10, 20, 30 and 40 9 140 21,3 7 350 24,9 1 790 13,3
60 Movement, sport, artistic activity 7 019 16,3 5 106 17,3 1 913 14,2
99 Other Working Processes no listed above 693 1,6 449 1,5 244 1,8
00 No information 1 340 3,1 1 025 3,5 315 2,3

The specific physical activity illustrates the person’s exact physical activity just before the moment of injury, while the working process variable describes the general nature of work at the time of the accident. The specific physical activity can be intentional or voluntary, but it need not be of long duration. According to the results (Table 3), nearly four in ten accidents occurred when the person was moving. More of women’s accidents (46.2%) took place in connection with movement than men’s (34.1%). Nearly every fifth (19.1%) accident occurred when the person was carrying a load by hand. Likewise, around one fifth (18.8%) of accidents took place when handling diverse objects. In relative terms, men had over 50 per cent more accidents at work when working with hand-held tools than women did.

Table 3. Wage and salary earners’ accidents at work by gender and specific physical activity in 2009

Specific physical activity                          Total        Males        Females      
  N % N % N %
Total 42 979 100 29 471 100 13 508 100
             
10 Operating machine 1 762 4,1 1 475 5,0 287 2,1
20 Working with hand-held tools 4 852 11,3 4 092 13,9 760 5,6
30 Driving/being on board a means of transport or handling equipment 986 2,3 790 2,7 196 1,5
40  Handling of objects 8 086 18,8 5 874 19,9 2 212 16,4
50 Carrying by hand 8 190 19,1 5 452 18,5 2 738 20,3
60 Movement 16 288 37,9 10 049 34,1 6 239 46,2
70 Presence 931 2,2 535 1,8 396 2,9
99 Other Specific Physical Activities not listed above 962 2,2 509 1,7 453 3,4
00 No information 922 2,1 695 2,4 227 1,7

The cause of accident mostly stumbling, slipping or falling

Next we will examine the progress of the events leading to the actual accident at work. Among women roughly one third (35.5%) and among men nearly 30 per cent (29.7%) of accidents at work resulted from stumbling, jumping, slipping or falling (Table 4). The proportions were nearly the same as one year ago. This appears from the data of the ‘deviation’ variable, which describes the unusual occurrence during the physical activity leading to the accident at work. If several deviating events precede the actual accident, the one occurring last is recorded. The second most common event leading to an accident was a sudden physical stress for both men (18.5%) and women (21.1%).

Table 4. Wage and salary earners’ accidents at work by gender and deviation in 2009

Deviation           Total        Males        Females      
  N % N % N %
Total 42 979 100 29 471 100 13 508 100
             
10 Deviation due to electrical problems, explosion, fire 91 0,2 72 0,2 19 0,1
20 Deviation by overflow, overturn, leak, flow, vaporisation, emission 1 048 2,4 767 2,6 281 2,1
30 Breakage, bursting, splitting, slipping, fall, collapse of Material Agent 4 600 10,7 3 439 11,7 1 161 8,6
40 Loss of control (total or partial) of machine, means of transport or handling equipment, hand-held tool, object, animal 5 052 11,8 3 937 13,4 1 115 8,3
50 Slipping – Stumbling and falling – Fall of persons 13 549 31,5 8 750 29,7 4 799 35,5
60 Body movement without any physical stress (generally leading to an external injury) 7 034 16,4 5 162 17,5 1 872 13,9
70 Body movement under or with physical stress (generally leading to an external injury) 8 286 19,3 5 439 18,5 2 847 21,1
80 Shock, fright, violence, aggression, threat, presence 1 195 2,8 442 1,5 753 5,6
99 Other Deviations not listed above 1 540 3,6 1 040 3,5 500 3,7
00 No information 584 1,4 423 1,4 161 1,2

Roughly three in ten victims (29.7%) of accidents at work were injured due to horizontal or vertical impact with or against a stationary object (Table 5). This is also indicated in the data of the variable expressing the deviating situation leading to the accident, where stumbling, falling or similar was the most common event leading to the accident. With a few exceptions, the data of these two variables on men and women are almost identical. Approximately every fourth (25.2%) was injured as a result of sudden physical or mental stress. The mode of injury describes how the injured body part came into contact with the cause of the injury. Where there are several modes of injury, the one causing the most serious injury is recorded.

Table 5. Wage and salary earners’ accidents at work by gender and contact - mode of injury in 2009

Contact - Mode of injury (ESAW) Total        Males        Females      
  N % N % N %
Total 42 979 100 29 471 100 13 508 100
             
10 Contact with electrical voltage, temperature, hazardous substances 1 190 2,8 770 2,6 420 3,1
20 Drowned, buried, enveloped 10 0,0 5 0,0 5 0,0
30 Horizontal or vertical impact with or against a stationary object (the victim is in motion) 12 751 29,7 8 189 27,8 4 562 33,8
40 Struck by object in motion, collision with 4 221 9,8 3 145 10,7 1 076 8,0
50 Contact with sharp, pointed, rough, coarse Material Agent 6 539 15,2 5 120 17,4 1 419 10,5
60 Trapped, crushed, etc. 4 594 10,7 3 452 11,7 1 142 8,5
70 Physical or mental stress 10 831 25,2 7 212 24,5 3 619 26,8
80 Bite, kick, etc. (animal or human) 1 061 2,5 389 1,3 672 5,0
99 Other Contacts – Modes of Injury not listed in above 1 428 3,3 943 3,2 485 3,6
00 No information 354 0,8 246 0,8 108 0,8

In one third of wage and salary earners’ accidents at work the material agent of the injury was various kinds of scaffolding, surfaces and planes, for men 31.3 per cent and for women 37.5 per cent. Various materials, objects and supplies injured slightly over one quarter of the victims of accidents at work (Table 6).

The data on the material agent of contact describe the physical factor with which the injured body part was in contact. In case of several modes those filling in the accident notification form are asked to report the material agent of the most serious injury.

Table 6. Wage and salary earners’ accidents at work by gender and material agent of contact - mode of injury in 2009

Material Agent of Contact-Mode of injury (FAII)       1) Total        Males        Females      
  N % N % N %
Total 42 979 100 29 471 100 13 508 100
             
1100-1399 Scaffolding, surfaces and planes 14 312 33,3 9 245 31,3 5 067 37,5
2100-2799 Tools, machines and equipment 6 614 15,4 5 469 18,7 1 145 8,5
2801-2899 Conveying, transport and storage equipment 1 868 4,4 1 280 4,4 588 4,4
3100, 3200 Transport equipment 1 369 3,2 1 134 3,8 235 1,8
4100-4400 Materials, objects and supplies 11 601 26,9 8 621 29,4 2 980 22,1
5100 Living organisms and human-beings 2 857 6,6 848 2,9 2009 14,9
5200 Bulk waste 158 0,4 125 0,4 33 0,2
5300 Physical phenomena and natural elements 341 0,8 224 0,8 117 0,9
9999 Other material agents not listed above 2 944 6,8 1 908 6,5 1 036 7,7
0000 No information 915 2,1 617 2,1 298 2,2
1) The classification of the variables is national (FAII = Federation of Accident Insurance Institutions).

The classification describing the material agent is national for accident data on wage and salary earners. The classification is considerably more detailed than before. Two things should be kept in mind when examining the results. Firstly, the occurrence of an accident at work is usually a sum of many factors and no individual material agent can always be identified unambiguously. However, the variable data show what kind of equipment or tools the victim was using or in what kind of working environment the accident occurred. Secondly, inadequate guidance or inexperience on the part of the worker can often play a major role in the occurrence of an accident. It is difficult and often impossible to produce statistics on such factors.

Four out of ten injuries (42.8%) caused by accidents at work were dislocations, sprains or strains (Table 7). The next most common were wounds and superficial injuries (25.6%) and various concussions and internal injuries (16.2%). Men’s accidents caused relatively more often various wounds and superficial injuries, while women’s accidents caused dislocations, sprains and strains. This is concordant with the results presented above, which showed that men more often than women injure themselves in accidents at work in connection with sharp objects whereas women injure themselves by stumbling or slipping more frequently than men.

Table 7. Wage and salary earners’ accidents at work by gender and type of injury in 2009

Type of Injury (ESAW)                     Total        Males        Females     
  N % N % N %
Total 42 979 100 29 471 100 13 508 100
             
010 Wounds and superficial injuries 10 999 25,6 8 219 27,9 2 780 20,6
020 Bone fractures 4 340 10,1 3 056 10,4 1 284 9,5
030 Dislocations, sprains and strains 18 415 42,8 12 079 41,0 6 336 46,9
040 Traumatic amputations (Loss of body parts) 135 0,3 120 0,4 15 0,1
050 Concussions and internal injuries 6 979 16,2 4 664 15,8 2 315 17,1
060 Burns, scalds and frostbites 975 2,3 576 2,0 399 3,0
070 Poisonings and infections 130 0,3 105 0,4 25 0,2
080 Drowning and asphyxiations 2 0,0 2 0,0 - -
090 Effects of sound, vibration and pressure 9 0,0 8 0,0 1 0,0
100 Effects of temperature extremes, light and radiation 8 0,0 6 0,0 2 0,0
110 Shocks 102 0,2 63 0,2 39 0,3
120 Multiple injuries 144 0,3 80 0,3 64 0,5
999 Other specified injuries not included under other headings 213 0,5 138 0,5 75 0,6
000 No information 528 1,2 355 1,2 173 1,3

More than four out of ten accidents at work (43.3%) involved the upper extremities (Table 8). Nearly 30 per cent (29.6%) injure lower extremities, including hips, thighs, knees, shins and ankles.

Table 8. Wage and salary earners’ accidents at work by gender and injured body part in 2009

Part of Body Injured (ESAW)      Total        Males        Females     
  N % N % N %
Total 42 979 100 29 471 100 13 508 100
             
10 Head 1 619 3,8 1 182 4,0 437 3,2
20 Neck 464 1,1 301 1,0 163 1,2
30 Back, spine 6 012 14,0 3 970 13,5 2 042 15,1
40 Torso, internal organs 2 179 5,1 1 647 5,6 532 3,9
50 Upper extremities 18 594 43,3 13 102 44,5 5 492 40,7
60 Lower extremities 12 701 29,6 8 467 28,7 4 234 31,3
70 Entire body or several body parts 1 149 2,7 639 2,2 510 3,8
99 Others 112 0,3 68 0,2 44 0,3
00 Data missing 149 0,3 95 0,3 54 0,4

Average duration of absence from work 12 days

The seriousness of accidents at work can be assessed based on the duration of disability resulting from the injury. The figures describing the length of absence from work before 2002 are not fully comparable with the figures for 2002 to 2008, because it was not earlier possible to separate the cases leading to the employment accident pension. The cases leading to the employment accident pension are always serious, but in some of the cases the recorded number of days absent may have been low before the decision on the pension was granted. Now pension cases are excluded from the examination of the duration of disability.

The average duration of absence from work due to an accident at work was 12 days (12.4) in 2009. The average duration of disability was 13.6 days for men and 9.9 days for women. The average duration of absence caused by accidents increased with age for both men and women (Figure 7). Included are also accidents at work leading to disability lasting under four days.

Figure 7. Average length of absence of wage and salary earners' accidents at work by gender and age in 2009

Figure 7. Average length of absence of wage and salary earners' accidents at work by gender and age in 2009

Slightly under one third (29.6%) of all accidents leading to disability lasting at least four days caused disability of four to six days, and 18.4 per cent of the accidents – including employment accident pension cases – were serious, causing absences lasting longer than 30 days (Table 9).

Table 9. Wage and salary earners’ accidents at work by gender and length of disability in 2009

Duration of disability - days     Total        Males        Females     
  N % N % N %
Total 42 979 100 29 471 100 13 508 100
             
4–6 days 12 737 29,6 8 431 28,6 4 306 31,9
7–14 days 15 299 35,4 10 423 35,4 4 806 35,6
15–30 days 7 099 16,5 4 960 16,8 2 139 15,8
31–90 days 5 423 12,6 3 806 12,9 1 617 12,0
91–182 days 1 478 3,4 1 076 3,7 402 3,0
183–365 days 890 2,1 667 2,3 223 1,7
Employment accident pension 123 0,3 108 0,4 15 0,1

Risk of commuting accidents fell clearly

In 2009, wage and salary earners had a total of 18,261 commuting accidents for which insurance companies paid compensation. Disability of at least four days resulted from 8,524 of these accidents. In the statistics commuting accidents are separated from accidents at work and accidents while in work traffic. A commuting accident means an accident on the journey between home and work. Due to incomplete information in claims forms, some commuting accidents are in practice recorded as accidents at work and vice versa.

The number of commuting accidents decreased by one fifth (-20.2%) from 2008, as there were about 22,203 commuting accidents that year, of which 10,684 led to disability of at least four days. The number of fatal commuting accidents also fell clearly from the year before. In 2009 a total of 11 people died while commuting, whereas in 2008 the corresponding number was 18. In 2007 the respective figure was 25 and in 2006 fatal commuting accidents at work numbered 16. Thus, the number of fatal commuting accidents varies greatly by year. The long-term development of the number of commuting accidents is examined in more detail in Appendix Table 4.

Commuting accidents differ from accidents at work in that they are more common among women than men: nearly two thirds (65.6%) of all commuting accidents occurred to women. In 2002 to 2008 the proportion was nearly the same, at roughly 65 per cent. By contrast, over two times more fatal commuting accidents occurred to men (8) compared to women (3). However, the number of persons having lost their lives in fatal commuting accidents declined by over one third from the year before (-38.9%).

The accident incidence rate of commuting accidents fell clearly (17.0%). In 2009, there were 399 commuting accidents per 100,000 wage and salary earners. In 2008 the corresponding ratio was 481 and in 2007 it was 410. Women had 508 (628 in 2008) and men 284 (322 in 2008) commuting accidents per 100,000 wage and salary earners in 2009. Similarly as the number of fatal commuting accidents, the accident incidence rate of commuting accidents varies clearly by year.

The difference between men and women stays the same when looking at the accident incidence rates in different age groups (Figure 8). Both men’s and women’s risk of commuting accidents increases with age, but women’s risk is still higher than men’s in all age groups. The risk of getting injured on the way to or from work is over three-fold among women aged 55 to 64 in comparison with the youngest age group. The relative difference between men and women is also biggest in the oldest age group.

Figure 8. Wage and salary earners' commuting accidents per 100,000 wage and salary earners by gender and age in 2009

Figure 8. Wage and salary earners' commuting accidents per 100,000 wage and salary earners by gender and age in 2009

Most commuting accidents occur when walking or cycling: more than six out of ten (61%) of those injured in commuting accidents were walking and good one fifth (23%) were cycling when injured. When comparing men and women by mode of transport there were no great differences in commuting accidents: women were slightly more often injured when walking than men were, whereas among men slightly more accidents occurred when cycling than among women (Figure 9). It is not possible to take into account in the statistics the differences between women and men in their frequency of using a bicycle or a car on the journey between home and work.

Figure 9. Wage and salary earners' commuting accidents by mode of travel and gender in 2009

Figure 9. Wage and salary earners' commuting accidents by mode of travel and gender in 2009

When considering the modes of travel it is natural that the most common type of accident is falling, slipping or stumbling. In 2009 four out of five (78%) of all commuting accidents resulted from falling or slipping. The second most common type (10%) of accident is ’collision with a car’ (Table 11).

Table 10. Wage and salary earners’ commuting accidents by gender and type of accident in 2009

Type of accident                Total        Males        Females     
  N % N % N %
Total 8 524 100 2 936 100 5 588 100
             
Falling, slipping or stumbling      6 604 77,5 2 194 74,7 4 410 78,9
Stepping on objects 67 0,8 28 1,0 39 0,7
Driving off the road or car falling over 455 5,3 173 5,9 282 5,0
Collision with a car 811 9,5 347 11,8 464 8,3
Collision with a bicycle, moped, etc. 144 1,7 37 1,3 107 1,9
Collision with a track-going vehicle 1 0,0 1 0,0
Violence 17 0,2 6 0,2 11 0,2
Others 425 5,0 150 5,1 275 4,9

Most of the injuries caused by commuting accidents were minor, often caused by falling. In more than four cases out of ten, the victim’s injuries were various dislocations of joints, sprains and strains (Table 11). The injured body parts were often the extremities (Table 12).

Table 11. Wage and salary earners' commuting accidents by type of injury in 2009

Type of Injury (ESAW)                      Total        Males        Females     
  N % N % N %
Total 8 524 100 2 936 100 5 588 100
             
010 Wounds and superficial injuries 894 10,5 297 10,1 597 10,7
020 Bone fractures 1 771 20,8 611 20,8 1 160 20,8
030 Dislocations, sprains and strains 3 597 42,2 1 287 43,8 2 310 41,3
040 Traumatic amputations (Loss of body parts) 2 0,0 2 0,0
050 Concussions and internal injuries 1 885 22,1 605 20,6 1 280 22,9
060 Burns, scalds and frostbites 7 0,1 5 0,2 2 0,0
070 Poisonings and infections 2 0,0 1 0,0 1 0,0
090 Effects of sound, vibration and pressure
110 Shocks 6 0,1 1 0,0 5 0,1
120 Multiple injuries 124 1,5 40 1,4 84 1,5
999 Other specified injuries not included under other headings 36 0,4 12 0,4 24 0,4
000 No information 200 2,3 77 2,6 123 2,2

Table 12. Wage and salary earners' commuting accidents by gender and injured body part in 2009

Part of Body Injured (ESAW)      Total        Males        Females       
  N % N % N %
Total 8 524 100 2 936 100 5 588 100
             
10 Head 310 3,6 77 2,6 233 4,2
20 Neck 380 4,5 132 4,5 248 4,4
30 Back, spine 670 7,9 249 8,5 421 7,5
40 Torso, internal organs 656 7,7 303 10,3 353 6,3
50 Upper extremities 2 473 29,0 876 29,8 1 597 28,6
60 Lower extremities 3 024 35,5 971 33,1 2 053 36,7
70 Entire body or several body parts 887 10,4 274 9,3 613 11,0
99 Others 18 0,2 7 0,2 11 0,2
00 Data missing 106 1,2 47 1,6 59 1,1

Self-employed persons’ accidents at work

This section focuses on the accidents at work among farmers and other self-employed persons. Self-employed persons’ (excl. farmers) accidents at work were separated in the occupational accident statistics from wage and salary earners’ accidents at work for the first time in 1995. Earlier, accidents of self-employed persons were included as such in wage and salary earners’ accidents at work. When examining the figures on self-employed persons’ accidents at work it must be noted that accident insurance is voluntary for self-employed persons, and not all of them are insured. Therefore, the distribution of self-employed persons’ accidents at work according to different background variables (age, occupation, industry) also illustrates in which occupations and sectors self-employed persons are more insured than usual.

In Finland most farmers live on their farms, which makes it impossible to separate accidents at work and commuting accidents from each other. In this publication all accidents having occurred to farmers in their work are called accidents at work. The accidents at work data on farmers are based on the data obtained from the Farmers’ Social Insurance Institution (MELA).

Apart from a full-time and working age farmer, the insured can be a pensioner, an under 18-year-old family member or a person practising part-time agriculture, game or reindeer husbandry or fishing industry. The number of farmers has decreased steadily during the last few years. At the end of 2009 there were 81,146 farmers insured by the Farmers’ Social Insurance Institution, which is about 2,900 fewer than one year previously and over 30,000 fewer than in 1999.

Farmers’ accidents at work decreased

The changes in the numbers of farmers are also visible in the numbers of accidents at work. MELA paid compensation for 4,731 occupational accidents that had occurred in the course of 2009. The figure is down by around 400 cases from the previous year. There were a total of 4,045 occupational accidents leading to disability of at least four days, while in the previous year the respective figure was 4,453 (-9.3%). The number of farmers’ accidents at work has been falling during the past ten years, the year 2005 excluded (Figure 10). The accident peak in 2005 could in part be the result of the introduction that year of the full-cost responsibility system of patient care.

Figure 10. Farmers’ non-fatal accidents at work with at least 4 days’ absence in 2000–2009

Figure 10. Farmers’ non-fatal accidents at work with at least 4 days’ absence in 2000–2009

Farmers’ risk of death at work diminished slightly

Of all the farmers’ accidents at work for which compensation was paid in 2009, four were fatal, whereas in the previous year seven farmers died as a result of an accident at work. Three male farmers and one female farmer died in accidents at work. Of all the fatal accidents at work of farmers in 2000 to 2009 only two have occurred to women. Figure 11 presents the accident incidence rates of farmers from 2000 to 2009 with regard to both deaths at work and accidents leading to disability of at least four days. The figure shows that the risk of death at work varies strongly in different years. In 2009, 4.8 per 100,000 insured farmers died, while in 2008 the corresponding ratio was 8.2. The corresponding ratio was 9.2 in 2007 and 5.6 in 2006. The year 2000 was the darkest in the near past; a total of 12.9 per 100,000 insured farmers died in accidents at work.

An examination of the time series reveals that farmers’ risk of fatal accidents at work has fallen by good one tenth (13%) during 1999 to 2009. This becomes clear if we compare two five-year periods with each other. In the 2000 to 2004 period, farmers had 44 fatal accidents at work, which is an average of 8.8 fatal accidents per 100,000 farmers. In the 2005 to 2009 period, a total of 33 farmers died in occupational accidents, which amounted to an annual average of 7.6 fatal accidents per 100,000 farmers.

Figure 11. Farmers’ accident rates in 2000–2009

Figure 11. Farmers’ accident rates in 2000–2009

Table 13 compares the incidence rate of accidents leading to the death of the farmer with the riskiest industries among wage and salary earners in 2009. Because the majority of persons who die as the result of accidents at work are generally men, their accident incidence rate is given separately. The figures indicate that male farmers' work was the most dangerous. Of them, a total of 5.5 per 100,000 insured farmers died in accidents at work in 2009. In 2008 the corresponding figure was 12.4.

In 2009, the riskiest industry for wage and salary earners was transportation and storage. For men in this industry the risk of death at work was 4.7 (for men 4.1) per 100,000 insured wage and salary earners. The second most risky industry among wage and salary earners was construction. In this industry the risk of death at work was 4.5 (for men 5.0) per 100,000 insured wage and salary earners.

Table 13. Farmers’ fatal accidents at work compared with wage and salary earners’ fatal accidents in high risk branches of industry per 100,000 farmers or wage and salary earners in 2008–2009

  Year 2008   Year 2009  
  Total Males Total Males
         
Farmers 8,2 12,4 4,8 5,5
Wage and salary earners 1,4 2,6 1,2 2,1
   Industry 0,8 1,0 0,3 0,4
   Construction 3,4 3,7 4,5 5,0
   Transport, storage and communication 3,8 5,2 4,7 4,1
1) The data by industry are based on the revised Standard Industrial Classification TOL 2008 which was adopted in the Statistics on Accidents at Work in the statistical reference year 2008. The data classified by the revised industrial classification are not comparable with those produced by its predecessor TOL 2002 (this applies to data from reference year 2007 and prior to it)

Among farmers, the proportion of minor accidents at work, resulting in disability of less than four days, has stayed roughly level in the past few years, at under 15 to 20 per cent of all compensated accidents (Table 1). Nearly every third (31.4%) accident at work was a so-called serious accident, i.e. they caused disability lasting longer than one month (Appendix Table 5). In the following, the focus will be on those accidents at work that resulted in an absence of at least four days.

Farmers’ risk of accidents increases with age

In 2009, there were 4,897 occupational accidents per 100,000 insured farmers, which is slightly fewer (-6.2%) than in 2008 (5,220). However, farmers’ risk of accidents is still clearly higher than that of wage and salary earners and distinctly higher for men than for women: men had 5,696 and women 3,328 accidents at work per 100,000 insured farmers (Figure 12). This difference between the genders is partly explained by the fact that in farming men conventionally undertake the kind of work in which accidents are common. Such work includes construction work and tasks related to the use and maintenance of machinery and equipment.

Figure 12. Farmers’ accident at work per 100 000 insured by gender and age in 2009

Figure 12. Farmers’ accident at work per 100 000 insured by gender and age in 2009

Nearly six out of ten (62.7%) accidents to farmers occur to over those aged 45 or over. In 2009 the number of accidents was relatively highest in the age groups of those aged 55 or over, 4,793 per 100,000 farmers. In 2009 the corresponding ratio for persons aged 25 or under was 4,035. In 2008 the corresponding ratio was 3,694 and in 2007 it was 6,045. The annual variation of their accident risk can be quite large, as the number of insured farmers belonging to the youngest age group is rather small.

Most accidents occur in animal husbandry

The proportion of accidents occurring in various animal husbandry tasks was similar to their proportion one year previously, good four out of ten (43.0%) of all accidents at work (Table 14). Especially women fell victims to accidents at work when tending cattle; more than three fourths (75.6%) of women’s accidents at work took place in animal husbandry. This proportion was exactly one third (33.3%) for men. The second greatest number of accidents (24.7%) occurred in other agriculture and forestry work, including tasks such as installation and maintenance of machinery and equipment. Approximately one sixth (14.2%) of accidents at work occurred while performing other tasks related to farming. However, no actual conclusions can be drawn from the available statistical data of the dangerousness of work in different areas, because then the amount of working time spent on different tasks should also be known. The classification of the variable describing the stage of work is national. The classification used by MELA is more detailed than the ESAW variable illustrating the working process (cf. Table 2).

Table 14. Farmers' accidents at work by type of work and gender in 2009

  Total   Males   Females   
  N % N % N %
Total 4 045 100 3 117 100 928 100
             
Farming work               575 14,2 502 16,1 73 7,9
Animal husbandry 1 739 43,0 1 037 33,3 702 75,6
Forest work 383 9,5 346 11,1 37 4,0
Construction work 233 5,8 215 6,9 18 1,9
Other agricultural and forestry work 999 24,7 914 29,3 85 9,2
Other work 116 2,8 103 3,2 13 1,4

Farmers most often injured as a consequence of horizontal or vertical impact with or against a stationary object

Horizontal or vertical impact with or against a stationary object was the most common mode of injury for farmers. In three out of ten (32%) cases the person was injured due to horizontal or vertical impact with or against the floor, ground or the like (Figure 13). Women farmers were pushed or kicked by an animal more often than men were, as every fourth (26%) of women farmers’ accidents was caused by an animal. Every tenth (11%) man injured in an accident was hurt by an animal bite, kick or the like.

The Farmers’ Social Insurance Institution collects data on the mode of injury, material agents, type of injury and injured body part using the ESAW classification.

Figure 13. Farmers' accidents at work by contact-mode of injury (ESAW) and gender in 2009

Figure 13. Farmers' accidents at work by contact-mode of injury (ESAW) and gender in 2009

In around one fourth of farmers’ accidents at work (27.5%) the material agent was an animal or a human being, or the injury was caused by a plant (Figure 14). In all probability most of these farmers' accidents were caused by animals. Various buildings, structures and surfaces were the material agents in every fifth accident (19.4%). Physical phenomena and natural elements caused ten per cent of the accidents at work.

Figure 14. Farmer's accidents by material agent of contact-mode of injury in 2009

Figure 14. Farmer's accidents by material agent of contact-mode of injury in 2009

In 2009, a total of 38 per cent of farmers’ injuries sustained in accidents at work were various kinds of dislocations, sprains and strains. Wounds and superficial injuries form another big group of injuries (32%). Seventeen per cent of all injuries to farmers were bone fractures. There were no significant differences in the distributions of men’s and women’s injuries: men’s injuries were more often wounds and superficial injuries, while women’s injuries were different kinds of sprains and strains (Figure 15).

Figure 15. Farmers' accidents at work by type of injury and gender in 2009

Figure 15. Farmers' accidents at work by type of injury and gender in 2009

About seven out of ten (71%) of all the accidents at work which occurred to farmers concerned extremities (Figure 16). Women injured their lower extremities more often than men did. Injuries to lower extremities most often involved knees and those to upper extremities palms or fingers.

Figure 16. Farmers' accidents at work by injured body part and gender in 2009

Figure 16. Farmers' accidents at work by injured body part and gender in 2009

Self-employed persons most often injured in manufacturing occupations and building construction

In 2009 insurance companies paid self-employed persons compensation for a total of 5,694 accidents at work. This also includes accidents on which compensation was paid only for medical treatment expenses. The proportion of these accidents at work that led to absence from work of less than four days was about 40 per cent of all self-employed persons’ accidents. One year previously compensation was paid for 5,936 accidents. The data concern self-employed persons other than farmers.

In 2009, self-employed persons suffered from 3,327 accidents at work that led to disability lasting at least four days. This is 86 cases fewer than in the previous year. The gender distribution of accidents at work is the same among self-employed persons as among wage and salary earners: the vast majority (85%) of the accidents of self-employed persons occurred to men. The age distribution of victims of accidents at work show that around two thirds (61%) of self-employed persons’ accidents occurred in the age group of those aged 35 to 54 (Table 15).

Table 15. Self-employed person's accidents at work by gender and age in 2009

Age Total      Males    Females  
  N % N % N %
Total 3 327 100 2 841 100 486 100
             
15–24 43 1,3 38 1,3 5 1,0
25–34 472 14,2 396 13,9 76 15,6
35–44 883 26,5 768 27,0 115 23,7
45–54 1 137 34,2 966 34,0 171 35,2
55–64 728 21,9 620 21,8 108 22,2
Others 64 1,9 53 1,9 11 2,3

Similarly to wage and salary earners, self-employed persons also had the highest numbers of accidents at work in manufacturing occupations and building construction. Examined by industry, self-employer persons’ risk industries are also mostly the same as those of wage and salary earners. The most dangerous industries are construction and transportation and storage. The variables describing the causes and consequences of self-employed persons’ accidents are examined more closely in Appendix Tables 6 to 10.


Source: Occupational accident statistics 2009, Statistics Finland

Inquiries: Arto Miettinen (09) 1734 2963, tyotapaturmat@stat.fi

Director in charge: Riitta Harala


Updated 30.11.2011

Referencing instructions:

Official Statistics of Finland (OSF): Occupational accident statistics [e-publication].
ISSN=1797-9544. 2009, Wage and salary earners’ accidents at work . Helsinki: Statistics Finland [referred: 17.10.2021].
Access method: http://www.stat.fi/til/ttap/2009/ttap_2009_2011-11-30_kat_001_en.html