Helsinki (14.09.2001 - Juhani Artto) A total of 4,993 cases of occupational illness were reported in Finland in 2000. This was four per cent lower than in the previous year. The annual incidence rate in 2000 was 21 cases per 10,000 employed workers (23 in 1999). Almost two-thirds (63 per cent) of the registered cases were involved male sufferers.

The average age of the male victims was 47 years, while among women this was 42 years. This difference is mainly due to the higher male rate of asbestosis and noise-induced hearing loss, both of which are concentrated in older age bands.

The most common occupational illnesses were repetitive strain injuries (1,489 cases), with a ten per cent increase observed from 1999.

Occupational skin diseases totalled 935 cases, down seven per cent from 1999. 60 per cent of the victims in this category were women.

There were 858 cases of noise-induced hearing loss, which was 14 per cent less than in 1999.

The amount of cases of asbestosis decreased by eight per cent to 592.

There were 565 cases of allergic respiratory illness, representing a 25 per cent fall from the 1999 figure.

Work-related carcinomas were reported in 116 cases, which was the same number as in 1999.

As in 1999 clearly the highest incidence rate by industrial sector was in food, drink and tobacco processing. This reached a level approaching 80 cases per 10,000 employed workers. This was followed by mineral mining, agriculture and forestry, production of transport equipment, production of non-metallurgic mineral products, construction work, production of metal and metal products and production of lumber and wood products - all exceeding an incident rate of 40 cases per 10,000 employed workers.

In absolute figures, the three worst sectors for occupational illness were public and other services (911 cases), agriculture and forestry (777) and construction work (644).

Source: Karjalainen, Aalto, Jolanki, Keskinen, Mäkinen, Saalo: Ammattitaudit 2000 [Occupational illnesses 2000], Työterveyslaitos [Finnish Institute of Occupational Health]. For further details contact Dr. Antti Karjalainen ().

The website of the Finnish Institute of Occupational Health has material in Finnish, Swedish and English.

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