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Keywords:

  • agriculture;
  • injury;
  • insurance;
  • farmer;
  • occupational disease;
  • retrospective study

Abstract

Background

Research indicates occupational injuries and diseases are not evenly distributed among workers. We investigated the distribution and characteristics of compensated occupational injuries and diseases requiring medical care in the Finnish farming population.

Methods

The study population consisted of 93,564 Finnish farmers, spouses, and salaried family members who were covered by the mandatory workers' compensation insurance in 2002. This population had a total of 133,207 occupational injuries and 9,148 occupational diseases over a 26-year period (1982–2008).

Results

Clustering of claims was observed. Nearly half (47.1%) of the population had no compensated claims while 52.9% had at least one; 50.9% of farmers had one or more injuries and 8.1% had one or more diseases. Ten percent of the population had half of injury cases, and 3% of the population had half of occupational disease cases. Claims frequently involved work tasks related to animal husbandry and repair and maintenance of farm machinery. Injury and disease characteristics (work activity, cause, ICD-10 code) differed between individuals with high and low personal claim rate. Injuries and diseases of the musculoskeletal system had a tendency to reoccur among those with high claim rate. These outcomes were often related to strenuous working motions and postures in labor-intensive animal husbandry.

Conclusions

Analyses of longitudinal insurance data contributes to better understanding of the long-term risk of occupational injury and disease among farmers. We suggest focusing on recurrent health outcomes and their causes among high risk populations could help design more effective interventions in agriculture and other industries. Am. J. Ind. Med. 56:856–869, 2013. © 2013 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.