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Trends in occupational diseases in Finland, 1975–2013: a register study
  1. Panu Oksa1,
  2. Riitta Sauni2,
  3. Nina Talola3,
  4. Simo Virtanen4,
  5. Jaakko Nevalainen3,
  6. Anja Saalo4,
  7. Jukka Uitti5,6
  1. 1Department of Occupational Health Services, Finnish Institute of Occupational Health, Tampere, Finland
  2. 2Department for Work and Gender Equality, Ministry of Social Affairs and Health, Tampere, Finland
  3. 3Health Sciences, Faculty of Social Sciences, Tampere University, Tampere, Finland
  4. 4Department of Operations and Project Support, Finnish Institute of Occupational Health, Helsinki, Finland
  5. 5Faculty of Medicine and Health Technology, Tampere University, Tampere, Finland
  6. 6Clinic of Occupational Medicine, Tampere University Hospital, Tampere, Finland
  1. Correspondence to Nina Talola; nitalola{at}


Objectives The objective was to investigate trends in the incidence of recognized and suspected cases of occupational diseases in Finland from 1975 to 2013, including variations by industry – and describe and recognize factors affecting variations in incidence.

Design A register study.

Setting The data consisted of recognized and suspected cases of occupational diseases recorded in the Finnish Registry of Occupational Diseases (FROD) in 1975–2013.

Participants Altogether 240 000 cases of suspected and recognized ODs were analysed.

Primary and secondary outcome measures From the annual workforce statistics and FROD data, we calculated the incidence of ODs and suspected ODs per 10 000 employees. For time trends by industrial sector, we used a 5-year moving average and a Poisson regression analysis.

Results Annual average rates of ODs have varied from year to year. The total number was 25.0/10 000 employees in 1975 and 20.1/10 000 employees in 2013. Screening campaigns and legislative changes have caused temporary increases. When the financial sector was the reference (1.0), the highest incidence rates according to industrial sector were in mining and quarrying (9.87; 95% CI 8.65 to 11.30), construction (9.11; 95% CI 9.98 to 10.43), manufacturing (9.04; 95% CI 7.93 to 10.36) and agriculture (8.78; 95% CI 7.69 to 10.06). There is a distinct decreasing trend from 2005 onwards: the average annual change in incidence was, for example, −9.2% in agriculture, −10.3% in transportation and −4.7% in construction. The average annual decline was greatest in upper limb strain injuries (−11.1%).

Conclusion This study provides a useful overview of the status of ODs in Finland over several decades. These data are a valuable resource for determining which occupations are at an increased risk and where preventive actions should be targeted. It is important to study long-term trends in the statistics of ODs to see beyond the year-to-year fluctuations.

  • statistical trend
  • occupational diseases register
  • register study

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  • Contributors PO: primary investigator involved in the study design, study conduct and reporting. RS and JU: coprimary investigators involved in the study design, data collecting and reporting. NT and JN: coinvestigators involved in statistical planning, data processing and reporting. SV and AS: coinvestigators involved in planning, data collecting, data processing and reporting.

  • Funding The Finnish Work Environment Fund funded the study (Project number 115142).

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

  • Data sharing statement Information of published data from Finnish Registry of Occupational Diseases is available on website of Finnish Institute of Occupational Health. No unpublished data are available.

  • Patient consent for publication Not required.