Wage and salary earners’ accidents at work

Risk of death at work went down again

A total of 26 fatal accidents at work occurred to wage and salary earners in 2011. The number of fatal accidents at work fell clearly from the year before, as in 2010 accidents at work resulted in the death of 33 wage and salary earners. It should be noted that accidents in work traffic cannot always be separated from commuting accidents when settling claims. Therefore, some of the accidents that occur in work traffic are recorded as commuting accidents. The number of accidents at work in traffic has decreased evenly from the early 1990s (Appendix table 1).

The risk of death at work went down again. In 2011, an average of 1.2 per 100,000 wage and salary earners died in an accident at work (Figure 1). The respective figure was 1.6 in 2010. This represents a fall of one-quarter relative to the the risk of fatal accidents at work in the previous year (-25.0%). The difference between genders with regard to fatal accidents at work is still clear: everyone of the 26 fatal accidents at work occurred to men. 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. However, the most risky industry in 2011 was transportation and storage, where there were 8.1 fatal accidents per 100,000 wage and salary earners working in that industry. In the industry of construction, the risk of fatal accidents at work was, in turn, 3.0. In the activity of wholesale and retail trade, 0.3 per 100,000 wage and salary earners, on the average, had a fatal accident at work (see Table 13).

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 1996–2011

Figure 1. Wage and salary earners' fatal accidents at work per 100,000 wage and salary earners in 1996–2011

Number of wage and salary earners' accidents at work rose slightly

The number of wage and salary earners’ accidents at work was slightly higher in 2011 than one year earlier. In 2011, wage and salary earners had 45,621 accidents at work causing disability of at least four days. This is 650 accidents more than in 2010 (1.4%). Farmers’ accidents at work decreased by around one hundred from the year before, and the number of accidents suffered by other self-employed people 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 2000–2011

Figure 2. Changes in the number of accidents at work by status in employment in 2000–2011

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 2011, a total of 2,109 accidents at work resulting in a disability of at least four days occurred per 100,000 wage and salary earners. The corresponding ratio in the previous year was 2,103, which means that the risk of accidents at work was in practice on level with the previous year (0.3%). 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 1996–2011

Figure 3. Accidents at work per 100,000 salary and wage earners in 1996–2011

Accidents at work continue to be a problem among men: seven in ten accidents at work (68.7%) 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 in 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 2011

   Age    Total   Males      Females     
N % N % N %
Total 45 621 100 31 333 100 14 288 100
6 026 13,2 4 254 13,6 1 772 12,4
10 222 22,4 7 668 24,5 2 554 17,9
9 945 21,8 6 972 22,3 2 973 20,8
11 407 25,0 7 614 24,3 3 793 26,5
7 683 16,8 4 612 14,7 3 071 21,5
Others 338 0,7 213 0,7 125 0,9

Men's risk of accidents at work is highest among the youngest age group (aged 15 to 24). In 2011, young men had 3,461 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 almost one-fifth (17.2%) higher than the average for wage and salary earner men. For young wage and salary earner men, the risk of accidents rose slightly from the year before (5.6%). 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. The picture of the accidents at work situation by gender given by the accident incidence rate has remained more or less stable 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 2011

Figure 4. Wage and salary earners’ accidents at work per 100,000 wage and salary earners by gender and age in 2011

Postal and courier activities most dangerous

In 2011, the industries with a high risk of accidents at work when measured with accident frequency were postal and courier activities, (33.9), manufacture of wood and wood products (32.9), and construction (30.1). Table 5 lists the industries with a higher than average (13.4) 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 10.3 accidents at work per one million hours worked in 2011, while one year previously their accident frequency was 10.1.

Figure 5. Wage and salary earners’ accidents at work per one million hours worked by industry in 2011, accident frequency higher average

Figure 5. Wage and salary earners’ accidents at work per one million hours worked by industry in 2011, accident frequency higher average

The accident risk measured with the accident frequency has been falling almost steadily from the late 1990s. In the previous year, 2010, the accident frequency in industries totalled 13.3.

The accident frequency (accidents at work per 100,000 wage and salary earners) 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. 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

A revised form for reporting accidents at work was introduced in Finland in 2003 to collect, for the first time, data on the circumstances and manner of accidents at work according to the European Statistics on Accidents at Work (ESAW). These data are now published for the ninth time in Statistics Finland’s occupational accident statistics for 2011. 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 at times, which is why the data presented provide a comprehensive picture of the circumstances during the accident at work, as well as the causes and consequences.

The Member States are allowed to exercise discretion as to the extent of their data collection. In Finland, data on accidents at work are collected on the key ESAW variables, in some of which only the main category classification is included. 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 were 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 only on the basis of the national classification. Such data are the data on the variable describing the direct cause of the accident at work (see Table 6). An indication that they are in line with the joint European statistics on accidents at work is given in tables and figures based on ESAW statistics.

Most accidents occur when the person is on the move

Data are given first 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 to the person’s occupation, because the tasks may vary at different times in the same occupation. Nearly one third (31.8%) of men’s accidents at work occurred in working processes related to production, manufacturing, processing or storing. More than one-half (53.1%) 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 2011

Working process      Total      Males      Females    
N % N % N %
Total 45 621 100 31 333 100 14 288 100
10 Production, manufacturing, processing, storing 11 950 26,3 9 989 31,8 1 961 13,8
20 Excavation, construction, repair, demolition 4 440 9,7 4 345 13,9 94 0,7
30 Agricultural type work, forestry, horticulture, fish farming, work with live animals 1 359 3,0 793 2,6 565 4,0
40 Services provided to enterprise and/or to the general public; intellectual activity 9 889 21,7 2 302 7,4 7 587 53,1
50 Other work related to tasks coded under 10, 20, 30 and 40 9 628 21,1 7 779 24,8 1 849 13,0
60 Movement, sport, artistic activity 6 333 13,8 4 710 15,0 1 623 11,4
99 Other Working Processes no listed above 537 1,2 300 1,0 237 1,7
00 No information 1 485 3,3 1 115 3,6 370 2,6

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. A greater part of women’s accidents (47.2%) took place in connection with movement than men’s (34.9%). Nearly every fifth (18.7%) accident occurred when the person was carrying a load by hand. Similarly, nearly one-fifth (17.9%) of accidents occurred when handling various objects. In relative terms, men had almost three times 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 2011

Specific physical activity                          Total      Males      Females    
N % N % N %
Total 45 621 100 31 333 100 14 288 100
10 Operating machine 1 857 4,1 1 586 5,1 271 1,9
20 Working with hand-held tools 5 024 11,0 4 317 13,8 707 4,9
30 Driving/being on board a means of transport or handling equipment 1 052 2,3 832 2,7 220 1,5
40  Handling of objects 8 167 17,9 5 992 19,1 2 175 15,2
50 Carrying by hand 8 552 18,7 5 685 18,1 2 867 20,1
60 Movement 17 692 38,8 10 944 34,9 6 748 47,2
70 Presence 1 208 2,6 720 2,3 488 3,4
99 Other Specific Physical Activities not listed above 1 184 2,6 621 2,0 563 3,9
00 No information 885 1,9 636 2,0 249 1,7

The cause of accident most often stumbling, slipping or falling

We will next examine the progress of the events leading to the actual accident at work. Among women good one-third (36.2%) and among men some 30 per cent (30.2%) of accidents at work were consequences of stumbling, jumping, slipping or falling (Table 4). The proportions are 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 (18.4%) and women (22.2%).

Table 4. Wage and salary earners’ accidents at work by gender and deviation in 2011

Deviation           Total      Males      Females    
N % N % N %
Total 45 621 100 31 333 100 14 288 100
10 Deviation due to electrical problems, explosion, fire 134 0,3 116 0,34 18 0,01
20 Deviation by overflow, overturn, leak, flow, vaporisation, emission 1 116 2,4 809 2,6 307 2,1
30 Breakage, bursting, splitting, slipping, fall, collapse of Material Agent 4 723 10,4 3 541 11,3 1 182 8,3
40 Loss of control (total or partial) of machine, means of transport or handling equipment, hand-held tool, object, animal 5 281 11,6 4 205 13,4 1 076 7,5
50 Slipping – Stumbling and falling – Fall of persons 14 633 32,1 9 454 30,2 5 179 36,2
60 Body movement without any physical stress (generally leading to an external injury) 7 226 15,8 5 383 17,2 1 843 12,9
70 Body movement under or with physical stress (generally leading to an external injury) 8 919 19,6 5 751 18,4 3 168 22,2
80 Shock, fright, violence, aggression, threat, presence 1 249 2,7 468 1,5 781 5,5
99 Other Deviations not listed above 1 623 3,6 1 100 3,5 523 3,7
00 No information 717 1,6 506 1,6 211 1,5

Roughly three tenths (30.1%) of the victims 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. Roughly every fourth (24.8%) 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 2011

Contact - Mode of injury (ESAW) Total      Males      Females    
N % N % N %
Total 45 621 100 31 333 100 14 288 100
10 Contact with electrical voltage, temperature, hazardous substances 1 320 2,9 878 2,8 442 3,1
20 Drowned, buried, enveloped 11 0,0 7 0,0 4 0,0
30 Horizontal or vertical impact with or against a stationary object (the victim is in motion) 13 736 30,1 8 804 28,1 4 932 34,5
40 Struck by object in motion, collision with 4 522 9,9 3 493 11,1 1 029 7,2
50 Contact with sharp, pointed, rough, coarse Material Agent 6 808 14,9 5 355 17,1 1 453 10,2
60 Trapped, crushed, etc. 4 742 10,4 3 579 11,4 1 163 8,1
70 Physical or mental stress 11 310 24,8 7 487 23,9 3 823 26,8
80 Bite, kick, etc. (animal or human) 1 083 2,4 359 1,1 724 5,1
99 Other Contacts – Modes of Injury not listed in above 1 633 3,6 1 067 3,4 566 4,0
00 No information 456 1,0 304 1,0 152 1,1

In one-third of wage and salary earners’ accidents at work - in 32.8 per cent among men and in 38.4 per cent among women - the direct material agent of the injury was diverse scaffolding, surfaces and planes. 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 describes the physical factor with which the injured body part was in contact. When several modes are in question, 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 2011

Material Agent of Contact-Mode of injury (FAII) 1) Total      Males      Females    
N % N % N %
Total 45 621 100 31 333 100 14 288 100
1100-1399 Scaffolding, surfaces and planes 15 784 34,6 10 281 32,8 5 503 38,4
2100-2799 Tools, machines and equipment 7 182 15,9 5 937 19,0 1 245 8,7
2801-2899 Conveying, transport and storage equipment 2 124 4,7 1 445 4,6 697 4,9
3100, 3200 Transport equipment 1 375 3,1 1 138 3,6 237 1,6
4100-4400 Materials, objects and supplies 11 574 25,3 8 683 27,6 2 891 20,2
5100 Living organisms and human-beings 3 184 7,0 940 3,0 2 244 15,7
5200 Bulk waste 244 0,5 189 0,6 55 0,4
5300 Physical phenomena and natural elements 381 0,8 247 0,8 134 0,9
9999 Other material agents not listed above 2 787 6,1 1 814 5,8 973 6,8
0000 No information 968 2,1 659 2,1 309 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 (43.2%) caused by accidents at work are dislocations, sprains or strains (Table 7). The next most common were wounds and superficial injuries (25.5%) and various concussions and internal injuries (15.5%) . 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 more than men injure themselves by stumbling or slipping.

Table 7. Wage and salary earners’ accidents at work by gender and type of injury in 2011

Type of Injury (ESAW)                     Total      Males      Females   
N % N % N %
Total 45 621 100 31 333 100 14 288 100
010 Wounds and superficial injuries 11 626 25,5 8 737 27,9 2 889 20,2
020 Bone fractures 4 613 10,1 3 271 10,4 1 342 9,4
030 Dislocations, sprains and strains 19 729 43,2 12 919 41,2 6 810 47,7
040 Traumatic amputations (Loss of body parts) 162 0,4 143 0,5 19 0,1
050 Concussions and internal injuries 7 079 15,5 4 739 15,1 2 340 16,4
060 Burns, scalds and frostbites 1 056 2,3 650 2,1 406 2,8
070 Poisonings and infections 124 0,3 89 0,3 35 0,2
080 Drowning and asphyxiations 1 0,0 1 0,0
090 Effects of sound, vibration and pressure 18 0,0 13 0,0 5 0,0
100 Effects of temperature extremes, light and radiation 8 0,0 4 0,0 4 0,0
110 Shocks 105 0,2 69 0,2 36 0,3
120 Multiple injuries 178 0,4 107 0,3 71 0,5
999 Other specified injuries not included under other headings 253 0,6 153 0,5 100 0,7
000 No information 876 1,9 5 57 1,8 319 2,3

More than four out of ten accidents at work (43.4%) involved the upper extremities (Table 8). Nearly 30 per cent (29.8%) 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 2011

Part of Body Injured (ESAW)      Total      Males      Females   
N % N % N %
Total 45 621 100 31 333 100 14 288 100
10 Head 1 797 3,9 1 353 4,3 444 3,1
20 Neck 503 1,1 311 1,0 192 1,3
30 Back, spine 6 130 13,4 3 986 12,7 2 144 15,0
40 Torso, internal organs 2 257 4,9 1 710 5,5 547 3,8
50 Upper extremities 19 788 43,4 14 072 44,9 5 716 40,0
60 Lower extremities 13 576 29,8 9 055 28,9 4 521 31,6
70 Entire body or several body parts 1 237 2,7 657 2,1 580 4,1
99 Others 109 0,2 54 0,2 55 0,4
00 Data missing 224 0,5 135 0,4 89 0,6

Average duration of absence from work 12 days

The seriousness of accidents at work can be assessed on the basis of 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 2011, because it was not earlier possible to separate the cases leading to the employment accident pension. The cases leading to 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 an absence from work due to an accident at work was 12 days (11.5) in 2011. The average duration of disability was 12.6 days for men and 9.4 days for women. The average duration of absence caused by accidents increases with age for both men and women (Figure 6). Included are also accidents at work leading to a disability lasting under four days.

Figure 6. Average duration of disability caused by wage and salary earners’ accidents at work by gender and age in 2011

Figure 6. Average duration of disability caused by wage and salary earners’ accidents at work by gender and age in 2011

Slightly under one-third (29.9%) of all accidents leading to disability of at least four days caused disability of four to six days. In all, 18.1 per cent of the accidents – including employment accident pension cases – were serious, causing absences of more than 30 days (Table 9).

Table 9. Wage and salary earners’ accidents at work by gender and length of disability in 2011

Duration of disability - days     Total      Males      Females   
N % N % N %
Total 45 621 100 31 333 100 14 288 100
4–6 days 13 656 29,9 9 004 28,7 4 652 32,6
7–14 days 16 129 35,4 11 070 35,3 5 059 35,4
15–30 days 7 603 16,7 5 394 17,2 2 209 15,5
31–90 days 5 716 12,5 3 976 12,7 1 740 12,2
91–182 days 1 575 3,5 1 173 3,7 402 2,8
183–365 days 806 1,8 613 2,0 193 1,4
Employment accident pension 136 0,3 103 0,3 33 0,2

Risk of commuting accidents grew clearly

In 2011, wage and salary earners had a total of 22,799 commuting accidents for which insurance companies paid compensation. 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 resulting in disability of at least four days grew clearly from 2010 (16.1%), as did the number of fatal commuting accidents (16.7%). In 2011, 21 wage and salary earners died on the way to or from work. In 2010, the corresponding figure was 18. In 2009, the respective figure was 11 and in 2008 fatal commuting accidents numbered 18. Thus, the number of commuting accidents varies greatly by year. The long-term development in 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 (67.5 %) of all commuting accidents occurred to women. By contrast, fatal commuting accidents occurred to men (13) more often than to women (8).

The accident incidence rate of commuting accidents grew clearly from the year before (14.8%). In 2011, there were 477 commuting accidents per 100,000 wage and salary earners. In 2010, the corresponding figure was 415. Women had 621 (545 in 2010) and men 327 (280 in 2010) commuting accidents per 100,000 wage and salary earners. Like 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 7). 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 nearly 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 7. Wage and salary earners’ commuting accidents per 100,000 wage and salary earners by gender and age in 2011

Figure 7. Wage and salary earners’ commuting accidents per 100,000 wage and salary earners by gender and age in 2011

Most commuting accidents occur when walking or cycling: more than six out of ten (64%) of those injured in commuting accidents were walking and good one-fifth (21%) 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, whereas slightly more of men's than women's accidents occurred when cycling (Figure 8). 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 8. Wage and salary earners’ commuting accidents by mode of travel and gender in 2011

Figure 8. Wage and salary earners’ commuting accidents by mode of travel and gender in 2011

When considering the modes of travel, it is natural that the most common type of accident is falling, slipping or stumbling. In 2011, four-fifths (79.3%) of all commuting accidents resulted from falling or slipping. The second most common type (9.0%) of accident is ’collision with a car’ (Table 10).

Table 10. Wage and salary earners’ commuting accidents by gender and type of accident in 2011

Type of accident                Total      Males      Females   
N % N % N %
Total 10 178 100 3 427 100 6 751 100
Falling, slipping or stumbling      8 069 79,3 2 610 76,2 5 459 80,9
Stepping on objects 44 0,4 21 0,6 23 0,3
Driving off the road or car falling over 582 5,7 242 7,1 3 40 5,0
Collision with a car 917 9,0 370 10,8 547 8,1
Collision with a bicycle, moped, etc. 141 1,4 41 1,2 100 1,5
Collision with a track-going vehicle 4 0,0 2 0,1 2 0,0
Violence 24 0,2 13 0,4 11 0,2
Others 397 3,9 128 3,7 269 4,0

Most of the injuries sustained in commuting accidents were minor, often caused by falling. In more than four cases out of ten (43.9%), 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 gender and type of injury in 2011

Type of Injury (ESAW)                      Total      Males      Females   
N % N % N %
Total 10 178 100 3 427 100 6 751 100
010 Wounds and superficial injuries 1 084 10,7 333 9,7 751 11,1
020 Bone fractures 2 088 20,5 706 20,6 1 382 20,5
030 Dislocations, sprains and strains 4 465 43,9 1 548 45,2 2 917 43,2
040 Traumatic amputations (Loss of body parts) 2 0,0 2 0,1
050 Concussions and internal injuries 2 020 19,8 640 18,7 1 380 20,4
060 Burns, scalds and frostbites 13 0,1 8 0,2 5 0,1
070 Poisonings and infections 2 0,0 1 0,0 1 0,0
090 Effects of sound, vibration and pressure
110 Shocks 14 0,1 6 0,2 8 0,1
120 Multiple injuries 170 1,7 68 2,0 102 1,5
999 Other specified injuries not included under other headings 45 0,4 15 0,4 30 0,4
000 No information 275 2,7 100 2,9 175 2,6

Table 12. Wage and salary earners’ commuting accidents by gender and injured body part in 2010

Part of Body Injured (ESAW)      Total      Males      Females     
N % N % N %
Total 10 178 100 3 427 100 6 751 100
10 Head 348 3,4 102 3,0 246 3,6
20 Neck 499 4,9 161 4,7 338 5,0
30 Back, spine 870 8,5 325 9,5 545 8,1
40 Torso, internal organs 735 7,2 333 9,7 402 6,0
50 Upper extremities 3 032 29,8 1 050 30,6 1982 29,4
60 Lower extremities 3 543 34,8 1 118 32,6 2 425 35,9
70 Entire body or several body parts 1 012 9,9 288 8,4 724 10,7
99 Others 24 0,2 8 0,2 16 0,2
00 Data missing 115 1,1 42 1,2 73 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. Before that, self-employed persons’ accidents 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 make a distinction between accidents at work and commuting accidents. In this publication, all accidents occurring to farmers in their work are called accidents at work. The data on farmers' accidents at work are based on the information 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 fishery. The number of farmers has been falling steadily in recent years. At the end of 2011, there were 75,980 farmers insured by the Farmers’ Social Insurance Institution, which is about 2,600 fewer than one year previously and over 36,000 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. In 2011, MELA paid compensation for 4,515 occupational accidents of farmers. The figure is down by around 40 cases from the previous year. There were a total of 3,861 occupational accidents leading to disability of at least four days, while in the previous year the respective figure was 3,898 (-0.9%). The number of farmers’ accidents at work has been falling during the past ten years, the year 2005 excluded (Figure 9). The accident peak in 2005 could in part be the result of the full-cost responsibility system of patient care introduced that year.

Figure 9. Farmers’ non-fatal accidents at work resulting in at least 4 days’ absence in 2000–2011

Figure 9. Farmers’ non-fatal accidents at work resulting in at least 4 days’ absence in 2000–2011

Farmers' risk of death at work diminished clearly

Of all the farmers' accidents at work for which compensation was paid in 2011, four were fatal, whereas in the previous year six farmers died in consequence of an accident at work. All fatal deaths at work occurred to men. Of all the farmers' fatal accidents at work in 2000 to 2011, only three have occurred to women. Figure 10 presents the accident incidence rates of farmers from 2000 to 2011 with regard to 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 2011, 5.2 per 100,000 insured farmers died, while in 2010 the corresponding ratio was 7.5. In 2009, the corresponding ratio was 4.8 and in 2008 it was 8.2. 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 around five per cent during the 2002 to 2011 period. This becomes clear if we compare two five-year periods with each other. In the 2002 to 2006 period, farmers had 35 fatal accidents at work, which is an average of 7.4 per 100,000 farmers per year. In the 2007 to 2011 period, a total of 29 farmers died in accidents at work, which converts to an annual average of 7.1 fatal accidents per 100,000 farmers.

Figure 10. Farmers’ accident rates in 2000–2011

Figure 10. Farmers’ accident rates in 2000–2011

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 2011. Because the majority of persons who die as the result of accidents at work are generally men, their accident incidence rates are given separately. The figures indicate that work was most dangerous for men working in the industry of transportation and storage. Of them, a total of 10.6 per 100,000 insured farmers died in accidents at work in 2011. In 2010, the corresponding figure was 5.9. Until 2010, work was most dangerous for male farmers. In that year, 9.4 farmer men per 100,000 insured farmers lost their lives. In 2011, the corresponding figure is 7.8.

In 2011, the second most risky industry for wage and salary earners was construction. In this industry the risk of death at work was 3.0 (for men 3.3) per 100,000 insured wage and salary earners. In 2010, the respective figures were 4.6 and 5.1.

Table 13. Farmer’s fatal accidents at work compared with wage and salary earner’s fatal accidents in high risk industries per 100,000 farmers or wage and salary earners in 2010–2011

  2010 2011
Total Males Total Males
Farmers 7,5 9,4 5,2 7,8
Wage and salary earners 1,6 3,0 1,2 2,5
   Manufacturing 2,3 3,2 0,3 0,4
   Construction 4,6 5,1 3,0 3,3
   Transportation and storage 4,6 5,9 8,1 10,6
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 unchanged in recent years at around 15 per cent of all compensated accidents (Table on page one in this publication). Nearly every third (32.5%) accident at work was a so-called serious accident, i.e. they caused a disability lasting longer than one month (Appendix table 5). In the following, the focus will be on those accidents at work that resulted in absence of at least four days from work.

Farmers’ risk of accidents increases with age

In 2011, there were 5,048 occupational accidents per 100,000 insured farmers, which is slightly fewer (3.4%) than in 2010 (4,882). 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 5,777 and women 3,585 accidents at work per 100,000 insured farmers (Figure 11). The difference between the genders is partly explained by the fact that in farming men conventionally do 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 11. Farmers’ accident at work per 100,000 insured by gender and age in 2011

Figure 11. Farmers’ accident at work per 100,000 insured by gender and age in 2011

More than six out of ten (63.7%) of farmers' accidents occur to those aged 45 or over. In 2011, the number of accidents was relatively highest in the age groups of those aged 55 or over: 4,914 per 100,000 farmers. The corresponding ratio for persons aged under 25 was 4,106 in 2011. In 2010, the same ratio for persons aged under 25 was 3,644 and in 2009 it was 4,035. The annual variation of their accident risk can be quite large, as there are not many insured farmers in the youngest age group.

Most accidents occur in animal husbandryy

The proportion of accidents occurring in various animal husbandry tasks was about the same as one year previously, or good four in ten (42.6%) of all accidents at work (Table 14). Especially women fell victims to accidents at work when tending cattle; three-quarters (75.7%) of women’s accidents at work took place in animal husbandry. Among men, the respective proportion was around one-third (32.3%). The second highest number (26.1%) of accidents occurred in other agricultural and forestry work, including tasks such as installation and maintenance of machinery and equipment. Approximately one-sixth (14.0%) of accidents at work occurred while performing other tasks related to farming. However, no actual conclusions can be drawn from the available statistical data about the dangerousness of work in different areas, because then the amount of working hours spent on different tasks should also be known. The classification of the variables 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 2011

  T otal Males     Females  
N % N % N %
Total 3 861 100 2 949 100 912 100
Farming work               540 14,0 472 16,0 68 7,5
Animal husbandry 1 643 42,6 953 32,3 690 75,7
Forest work 327 8,5 298 10,1 29 3,2
Construction work 206 5,3 196 6,6 10 1,1
Other agricultural and forestry work 1 006 26,1 902 30,6 104 11,4
Other work 139 3,5 128 4,3 11 1,2

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 cases out of ten (31%), the person was injured due to horizontal or vertical impact with or against the floor, ground or the like (Figure 12). Women farmers were pushed or kicked by an animal more often than men, as almost every fourth (23%) of women farmers’ accidents were caused by an animal. Every tenth (10%) man injured in an accident was hurt by an animal bite, kick or the like.

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

Figure 12. Farmers’ accidents at work by contact-mode of injury (ESAW) and gender in 2011

Figure 12. Farmers’ accidents at work by contact-mode of injury (ESAW) and gender in 2011

In around one-quarter (26.0%) of farmers’ accidents at work, the material agent was an animal or a human-being, or the injury was caused by a plant (Figure 13). In all probability, most of these farmers' accidents were expressly caused by animals. Various buildings, structures and surfaces were the material agents in every fifth accident (19.6%). Physical phenomena and natural elements caused 10 per cent of the accidents at work.

Figure 13. Farmer’s accidents by material agent of contact-mode of injury in 2011

Figure 13. Farmer’s accidents by material agent of contact-mode of injury in 2011

In 2011, a total of 37 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 (35%). Eighteen 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 14).

Figure 14. Farmers’ accidents at work by type of injury (ESAW) and gender in 2011

Figure 14. Farmers’ accidents at work by type of injury (ESAW) and gender in 2011

About seven out of ten (72%) of all the accidents at work which occurred to farmers concerned extremities (Figure 15). 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 15. Farmers’ accidents at work by injured body part (ESAW) and gender in 2011

Figure 15. Farmers’ accidents at work by injured body part (ESAW) and gender in 2011

Self-employed persons most often injured in construction and in transportation and storage industries

In 2011, insurance companies paid self-employed persons compensation for a total of 6,229 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 for less than four days was about 45 per cent of all self-employed persons’ accidents. One year previously, compensation was paid for 5,887 accidents. The data concern self-employed persons other than farmers.

In 2011, self-employed persons had 3,420 accidents at work that led to disability of at least four days. This is 342 cases more than in the year before. 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 shows that around two-thirds (58.9%) of self-employed persons’ accidents occurred to persons aged 35 to 54 (Table 15).

Table 15. Self-employed persons’ accidents at work by gender and age in 2011

Age Total    Males  Females
N % N % N %
Total 3 420 100 2 911 100 509 100
58 1,7 48 1,6 10 2,0
421 12,3 363 12,5 58 11,4
818 23,9 706 24,3 112 22,0
1 198 35,0 1 018 35,0 180 35,4
811 23,7 686 23,6 125 24,6
Others 114 3,3 90 3,1 24 4,7

Examined by industry, self-employer persons’ risk industries are 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 9.


Source: Occupational accident statistics 2011, Statistics Finland

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

Director in charge: Riitta Harala


Updated 27.11.2013

Referencing instructions:

Official Statistics of Finland (OSF): Occupational accident statistics [e-publication].
ISSN=1797-9544. 2011, Wage and salary earners’ accidents at work . Helsinki: Statistics Finland [referred: 14.12.2019].
Access method: http://www.stat.fi/til/ttap/2011/ttap_2011_2013-11-27_kat_001_en.html