Occupational diseases compensated in the Basque Country (Spain) from 1990 to 2008


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Spain, and some of its regions in particular, report higher rates of occupational diseases than many other countries in Europe. We describe the distribution and temporal trend of compensated occupational diseases among the working population of the Basque Country, a heavy industrialized Spanish region, from 1990 to 2008.


Employment data and occupational disease data were obtained from the Spanish Institute of Statistics and the Basque and Spanish Social Security Departments, respectively. Annual incidence of occupational diseases and temporal trends were computed.


Occupational diseases (33,547) were reported among workers in the Basque Country between 1990 and 2008. The occupational disease incidence increased sixfold during the study period, mainly due to less severe cases. The most frequent occupational diseases were caused by physical agents (85%), principally musculoskeletal disorders. The occupational disease incidence in Basque Country was two to six times higher than in most other regions of Spain and Europe.


The rise in compensated occupational illnesses in the Basque Country is likely due to a mixture of better recognition of such illnesses and changes in laws, regulations, and administrative procedures. Chronic occupational diseases such as cancer and chronic respiratory diseases, however, remain under-reported, and care for people with such illnesses represents an undue financial burden on the public health care system and on their families. Am. J. Ind. Med. 56:326–334, 2013. © 2013 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.