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Wage and salary earners’ accidents at work

Risk of death at work went down again

A total of 32 fatal accidents at work occurred to wage and salary earners in 2012. The number of fatal accidents at work rose clearly from the year before, as in 2011 accidents at work resulted in the death of 26 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 in work traffic has decreased evenly from the early 1990s (Appendix table 1).

The risk of death at work turned upwards again. In 2012, an average of 1.5 per 100,000 wage and salary earners died in an accident at work (Figure 1). The respective figure was 1.2 in 2011. This means a rise of one-quarter relative to 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: of the 32 fatal accidents at work 29 occurred to men and three to women. Fatal accidents at work concentrated on certain industries: nearly two out of three 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 deaths at work has conventionally been particularly high in the construction industry. The most risky industry in 2012 was indeed construction, where there were 5.3 fatal accidents per 100,000 wage and salary earners working in the industry. In the industry of transport and storage the risk of fatal accidents at work was 5.0. In the activity of manufacturing, 1.5 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 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 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 to 2012

Figure 1. Wage and salary earners' fatal accidents at work per 100,000 wage and salary earners in 1996 to 2012

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

The number of wage and salary earners’ accidents at work was slightly lower in 2012 than one year earlier. In 2012, wage and salary earners had 43,576 accidents at work causing disability of at least four days. This was around 2,000 accidents fewer than in 2011 (-4.5%). Farmers’ accidents at work decreased by around 160 from the year before, and the number of accidents suffered by other self-employed people also fell by nearly one hundred (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 estimated to be insured against accidents at work.

Figure 2. Changes in the number of accidents at work by status in employment in 2000 to 2012

Figure 2. Changes in the number of accidents at work by status in employment in 2000 to 2012

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 2012, a total of 2,013 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 2,109, which means that the risk of accidents at work fell slightly from with the previous year (-4.6%). The accident incidence rate is used to measure variation in the risks of accidents in different industries and occupational groups.

Figure 3. Wage and salary earners’ accidents at work per 100,000 salary and wage earners in 1996 to 2012

Figure 3. Wage and salary earners’ accidents at work per 100,000 salary and wage earners in 1996 to 2012

Accidents at work continue to be a problem among men: seven in ten accidents at work (67.7%) 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 have 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 2012

   Age    Total  Males      Females     
N % N % N %
Total 43 576 100 29 517 100 14 059 100
5 798 13,3 3 998 13,5 1 800 12,8
9 684 22,2 7 222 24,5 2 462 17,5
9 247 21,2 6 378 21,6 2 869 20,4
11 073 25,4 7 256 24,6 3 817 27,1
7 409 17,0 4 431 15,0 2 978 21,2
Others 365 0,8 232 0,8 133 0,9

Men's risk of accidents at work is highest among the youngest age group (aged 15 to 24). In 2012, young men had 3,110 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 over one-tenth (11.2%) higher than the average for wage and salary earner men. For young wage and salary earner men, the risk of accidents rose clearly from the year before (-10.1%). 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 nearly stable from one year to the next.

Figure 4. Wage and salary earners’ accidents at work per 100,000 salary and wage earners by gendre and age in 2012

Figure 4. Wage and salary earners’ accidents at work per 100,000 salary and wage earners by gendre and age in 2012

Postal and courier activities most dangerous

When measured with accident frequency, industries with a high risk of accidents at work in 2012 were postal and courier activities (32.8), construction (29.8), and land transport and transport via pipelines (28.4). Figure 5 lists the industries with a higher than average (12.8) 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 9.7 accidents at work per one million hours worked in 2012, while one year previously their accident frequency was 10.3.

Figure 5. Wage and salary earners’ accidents at work per one million hours worked by branch of industry in 2012, accident frequency more than average

Figure 5. Wage and salary earners’ accidents at work per one million hours worked by branch of industry in 2012, accident frequency more than average

The accident risk measured with the accident frequency has been falling almost steadily from the late 1990s. In the previous year, 2011, the accident frequency in industries totalled 13.4.

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 on 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 tenth time in Statistics Finland’s occupational accident statistics for 2012. Compared with the previous year’s statistics the distributions of variables are similar and thus appear quite 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 the 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 he 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 the tables and figures based on ESAW statistics.

Most accidents occur when the person is moving

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 (31.9%) of men’s accidents at work occurred in working processes related to production, manufacturing, processing or storing. More than one-half (54.7%) of women's accidents at work took place in working processes related to providing services to enterprises and/or to the general public (Table 2).

Table 2. Wage and salary earners’ accidents at work by gender and working process in 2012

Working process      Total     Males      Females    
N % N % N %
Total 43 576 100 29 517 100 14 059 100
10 Production, manufacturing, processing, storing 11 376 26,1 9 390 31,9 1 986 14,2
20 Excavation, construction, repair, demolition 4 467 10,3 4 362 14,7 102 0,6
30 Agricultural type work, forestry, horticulture, fish farming, work with live animals 1 466 3,3 835 2,8 629 4,5
40 Services provided to enterprise and/or to the general public; intellectual activity 10 010 22,9 2 325 7,9 7 685 54,7
50 Other work related to tasks coded under 10, 20, 30 and 40 8 988 20,6 7 144 24,3 1 844 13,2
60 Movement, sport, artistic activity 5 607 13,0 4 329 14,7 1 278 9,1
99 Other Working Processes no listed above 610 1,4 351 1,2 259 1,8
00 No information 1 052 2,4 781 2,6 271 1,9

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 great part of women’s accidents (46.7%) took place in connection with movement than men’s (35.0%). Nearly every fifth (18.5%) accident occurred when the person was carrying a load by hand. Similarly, nearly one-fifth (17.5%) of accidents occurred when handling various objects. In relative terms, men had almost three times more accidents at work than women when working with hand-held tools.

Table 3. Wage and salary earners’ accidents at work by gender and specific physical activity in 2012

Specific physical activity                          Total      Males      Females    
N % N % N %
Total 43 576 100 29 517 100 14 059 100
10 Operating machine 1 836 4,2 1 548 5,2 288 2,0
20 Working with hand-held tools 4 758 10,9 4 094 13,9 664 4,7
30 Driving/being on board a means of transport or handling equipment 1 114 2,6 880 3,0 234 1,7
40  Handling of objects 8 058 18,5 5 855 19,8 2 203 15,7
50 Carrying by hand 7 631 17,5 4 959 16,8 2 672 19,0
60 Movement 16 895 38,8 10 322 35,0 6 563 46,7
70 Presence 1 150 2,6 615 2,1 535 3,8
99 Other Specific Physical Activities not listed above 1 365 3,1 688 2,3 677 4,8
00 No information 769 1,8 546 1,8 223 1,6

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 (36.7%) and among men good 30 per cent (31.1%) 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 (17.2%) and women (20.7%).

Table 4. Wage and salary earners’ accidents at work by gender and deviation in 2012

Deviation           Total      Males      Females    
N % N % N %
Total 43 576 100 29 517 100 14 059 100
10 Deviation due to electrical problems, explosion, fire 131 0,3 109 0,4 22 0,2
20 Deviation by overflow, overturn, leak, flow, vaporisation, emission 1 026 2,4 725 2,5 301 2,1
30 Breakage, bursting, splitting, slipping, fall, collapse of Material Agent 4 432 10,2 3 275 11,1 1 157 8,2
40 Loss of control (total or partial) of machine, means of transport or handling equipment, hand-held tool, object, animal 4 891 11,2 3 825 13,0 1 066 7,6
50 Slipping – Stumbling and falling – Fall of persons 14 350 32,9 9 189 31,1 5 161 36,7
60 Body movement without any physical stress (generally leading to an external injury) 6 720 15,4 4 993 16,9 1 727 12,3
70 Body movement under or with physical stress (generally leading to an external injury) 7 991 18,3 5 087 17,2 2 904 20,7
80 Shock, fright, violence, aggression, threat, presence 1 130 2,6 420 1,4 710 5,1
99 Other Deviations not listed above 1 889 4,3 1 198 4,1 691 4,9
00 No information 1 016 2,3 689 2,4 320 2,3

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 2012

Contact - Mode of injury (ESAW) Total      Males      Females    
N % N % N %
Total 43 576 100 29 517 100 14 059 100
10 Contact with electrical voltage, temperature, hazardous substances 1 223 2,8 802 2,7 421 3,0
20 Drowned, buried, enveloped 9 0,0 6 0,0 3 0,0
30 Horizontal or vertical impact with or against a stationary object (the victim is in motion) 13 543 31,1 8 656 29,3 4 887 34,8
40 Struck by object in motion, collision with 4 168 9,6 3 082 10,4 1 086 7,7
50 Contact with sharp, pointed, rough, coarse Material Agent 6 249 14,3 4 926 16,7 1 323 9,4
60 Trapped, crushed, etc. 4 398 10,1 3 282 11,1 1 116 7,9
70 Physical or mental stress 10 352 23,8 6 808 23,1 3 544 25,2
80 Bite, kick, etc. (animal or human) 995 2,3 353 1,2 642 4,6
99 Other Contacts – Modes of Injury not listed in above 2 021 4,6 1 196 4,1 825 5,9
00 No information 618 1,4 406 1,4 212 1,5

In one-third of wage and salary earners’ accidents at work - in 33.8 per cent among men and in 38.7 per cent among women - the direct material agent of the injury was diverse scaffolding, surfaces and planes. Various materials, objects and supplies injured nearly 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 2012

Material Agent of Contact-Mode of injury (FAII) 1) Total      Males      Females    
N % N % N %
Total 43 576 100 29 517 100 14 059 100
1100-1399 Scaffolding, surfaces and planes 15 430 35,4 9 993 33,8 5 437 38,7
2100-2799 Tools, machines and equipment 6 986 16,1 5 735 19,3 1 251 8,9
2801-2899 Conveying, transport and storage equipment 2 001 4,6 1 331 4,5 670 4,7
3100, 3200 Transport equipment 1 257 2,9 1 040 3,5 217 1,6
4100-4400 Materials, objects and supplies 9 990 22,9 7 316 24,8 2 674 19,0
5100 Living organisms and human-beings 3 011 6,9 897 3,0 2 114 15,0
5200 Bulk waste 211 0,5 170 0,6 51 0,4
5300 Noise, pressure, fire, light arcs, light, snow, stretches of water 442 1,0 294 1,0 148 1,1
9999 Other material agents not listed above 3 025 6,9 1 922 6,5 1 103 7,8
0000 No information 1 213 2,8 819 2,8 394 2,8
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 (44.2%) caused by accidents at work are dislocations, sprains or strains (Table 7). The next most common were wounds and superficial injuries (25.1%) and various concussions and internal injuries (14.9%). 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 2012

Type of Injury (ESAW)                     Total      Males      Females   
N % N % N %
Total 43 576 100 29 517 100 14 059 100
010 Wounds and superficial injuries 10 916 25,1 8 024 27,2 2 892 20,6
020 Bone fractures 4 484 10,3 3 143 10,6 1 341 9,5
030 Dislocations, sprains and strains 19 272 44,2 12 449 42,2 6 823 48,5
040 Traumatic amputations (Loss of body parts) 182 0,4 163 0,6 19 0,1
050 Concussions and internal injuries 6 514 14,9 4 379 14,8 2 135 15,2
060 Burns, scalds and frostbites 930 2,1 547 1,9 383 2,7
070 Poisonings and infections 114 0,3 82 0,3 32 0,2
080 Drowning and asphyxiations 1 0,0 1 0,0 1) 1)
090 Effects of sound, vibration and pressure 16 0,0 15 0,1 1 0,0
100 Effects of temperature extremes, light and radiation 12 0,0 10 0,0 2 0,0
110 Shocks 85 0,2 52 0,2 33 0,2
120 Multiple injuries 167 0,4 94 0,3 73 0,5
999 Other specified injuries not included under other headings 250 0,6 148 0,5 102 0,7
000 No information 633 1,5 410 1,4 223 1,6
1) No cases.

More than four out of ten accidents at work (43.4%) involved upper extremities (Table 8). Nearly 30 per cent (29.9%) 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 2012

Part of Body Injured (ESAW)      Total      Males      Females   
N % N % N %
Total 43 576 100 29 517 100 14 059 100
10 Head 1 651 3,8 1 201 4,1 450 3,2
20 Neck 504 1,2 320 1,1 184 1,3
30 Back, spine 5 918 13,6 3 765 12,8 2 153 15,3
40 Torso, internal organs 2 176 5,0 1 628 5,5 548 3,9
50 Upper extremities 18 894 43,4 13 212 44,8 5 682 40,4
60 Lower extremities 13 030 29,9 8 640 29,3 4 390 31,2
70 Whole body or multiple sites 1 152 2,6 610 2,1 542 3,9
99 Others 111 0,3 51 0,2 60 0,4
00 No information 140 0,3 90 0,3 50 0,4

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 2012, because it was not earlier possible to separate the cases leading to the employment accident pension. The cases leading to the 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 (11.9) in 2012. The average duration of disability was 13.5 days for men and 9.0 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 2012

Figure 6. Average duration of disability caused by wage and salary earners’ accidents at work by gender and age in 2012

Two-third (30.0%) of all accidents leading to disability of at least four days caused disability of four to six days. In all, 18.7 per cent of the accidents at work – 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 2012

Lenght of disability - days     Total      Males      Females   
N % N % N %
Total 43 576 100 29 517 100 14 059 100
4–6 days 13 064 30,0 8 483 28,7 4 581 32,6
7–14 days 15 080 34,6 10 221 34,6 4 859 34,6
15–30 days 7 292 16,7 5 011 17,0 2 281 16,2
31–90 days 5 644 13,0 3 944 13,4 1 700 12,1
91–182 days 1 494 3,4 1 082 3,7 412 2,9
183–365 days 832 1,9 627 2,1 205 1,5
Employment accident pension 170 0,4 149 0,5 21 0,1

Risk of commuting accidents grew clearly

In 2012, wage and salary earners had a total of 22,296 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 fell slightly (-6.3%) from 2011. The number of fatal commuting accidents went down by nearly one quarter (-23.8%). In 2012, 16 wage and salary earners died on the way to or from work. In 2011, the corresponding figure was 21. In 2010, the respective figure was 18 and fatal commuting accidents numbered 11 in 2009. 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 (67.7%) of all commuting accidents occurred to women. By contrast, fatal commuting accidents occurred to men (10) more often than to women (6).

The accident incidence rate of commuting accidents fell slightly (-6.3%) from the previous year. In 2012, there were 447 commuting accidents per 100,000 wage and salary earners. In 2011, the corresponding figure was 477. Women had 581 (621 in 2011) and men 306 (327 in 2011) 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 2012

Figure 7. Wage and salary earners’ commuting accidents per 100,000 wage and salary earners by gender and age in 2012

Most commuting accidents occur when walking or cycling: more than six out of ten (66%) of those injured in commuting accidents were walking and nearly one-fifth (19%) 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 2012

Figure 8. Wage and salary earners’ commuting accidents by mode of travel and gender in 2012

When considering the modes of travel it is natural that the most common type of accident is falling, slipping or stumbling. In 2012, four-fifths (79.8%) of all commuting accidents resulted from falling or slipping. The second most common type (9.7%) of accident is ’collision with a car’ (Table 10).

Table 10. Wage and salary earners’ commuting accidents by gender and type of accident in 2012

Type of accident                Total      Males      Females   
N % N % N %
Total 9 532 100 3 180 100 6 352 100
Falling, slipping or stumbling      7 606 79,8 2 421 76,1 5 185 81,6
Stepping on objects 47 0,5 15 0,5 32 0,5
Driving off the road or car falling over 483 5,1 216 6,8 267 4,2
Collision with a car 921 9,7 365 11,5 556 8,8
Collision with a bicycle, moped, etc. 119 1,2 44 1,4 75 1,2
Collision with a track-going vehicle 3 0,0 1 0,0 2 0,0
Violence 22 0,2 10 0,3 12 0,2
Others 331 3,5 108 3,4 223 3,5

Most of the injuries sustained in commuting accidents were minor, often caused by falling. In more than four cases out of ten (45.9%), 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 2012

Type of Injury (ESAW)                      Total      Males      Females   
N % N % N %
Total 9532 100 3 180 100 6 352 100
010 Wounds and superficial injuries 893 9,4 292 9,2 601 9,5
020 Bone fractures 1 953 20,5 658 20,7 1 295 20,4
030 Dislocations, sprains and strains 4 373 45,9 1 507 47,4 2 866 45,1
040 Traumatic amputations (Loss of body parts) 4 0,0 3 0,1 1 0,0
050 Concussions and internal injuries 1 883 19,8 590 18,6 1 293 20,4
060 Burns, scalds and frostbites 4 0,0 2 0,1 2 0,0
070 Poisonings and infections 2 0,0 1 0,0 1 0,0
110 Shocks 1 0,0 1 0,0 1) 1)
120 Multiple injuries 8 0,1 4 0,1 4 0,1
999 Other specified injuries not included under other headings 153 1,6 36 1,1 117 1,8
000 No information 222 2,3 75 2,4 147 2,3
1) No cases.

Table 12. Wage and salary earners’ commuting accidents by gender and injured body part in 2012

Part of Body Injured (ESAW)      Total      Males      Females     
N % N % N %
Total 10 178 100 3 427 100 6 751 100
10 Head 335 3,5 119 3,7 216 3,4
20 Neck 509 5,3 163 5,1 346 5,4
30 Back, spine 847 8,9 313 9,8 534 8,4
40 Torso, internal organs 655 6,9 310 9,7 345 5,4
50 Upper extremities 2 890 30,3 928 29,2 1 962 30,9
60 Lower extremities 3 405 35,7 1 089 34,2 2 316 36,5
70 Whole body or multiple sitess 804 8,4 222 7,0 582 9,2
99 Others 12 0,1 3 0,1 9 0,1
00 Data missing 75 0,8 33 1,0 42 0,7

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 insured more 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 2012, there were 73,334 farmers insured by the Farmers’ Social Insurance Institution, which is about 2,600 fewer than one year previously and over 38,000 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 2012, MELA paid compensation for 4,554 occupational accidents of farmers. There were a total of 3,698 occupational accidents leading to disability of at least four days, while in the previous year the respective figure was 3,861 (-4.2%). The number of farmers’ accidents at work has been falling almost throughout the past ten years, the year 2005 excluded (Figure 9). The accident peak in 2005 could in part be the result of the introduction that year of the full-cost responsibility system of patient care.

Figure 9. Farmers’ non-fatal accidents at work resulting in at least 4 days’ absence in 2000–2012

Figure 9. Farmers’ non-fatal accidents at work resulting in at least 4 days’ absence in 2000–2012

Farmers' risk of death at work diminished clearly

Of all the farmers' accidents at work for which compensation was paid in 2012 seven were fatal, where as in the previous year four 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 2012 only one occurred to a woman. Figure 10 presents the accident incidence rates of farmers from 2000 to 2012 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 2012, 9.4 per 100,000 insured farmers died, while in 2011 the corresponding ratio was 5.2. In 2010, the corresponding ratio was 7.5 and in 2009 it was 4.8. 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 eight per cent during the 2003 to 2012 period. This becomes clear if we compare two five-year periods with each other. In the 2003 to 2007 period, farmers had 35 fatal accidents at work, which is an average of 7.6 per 100,000 farmers per year. In the 2008 to 2012 period, a total of 28 farmers died accidents at work, which converts to an annual average of 7.0 fatal accidents per 100,000 farmers.

Figure 10. Farmers’ accident rates in 2000 to 2012

Figure 10. Farmers’ accident rates in 2000 to 2012

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 2012. 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 male farmers' work was the most dangerous. Of them, a total of 14.0 per 100,000 insured farmers died in accidents at work in 2012. In 2011, the corresponding figure was 7.8.

In 2012, the second most risky industry was construction for wage and salary earners. In this industry the risk of death at work was 5.3 (for men 5.8) per 100,000 insured wage and salary earners. In 2011, the respective figures were 3.0 and 3.3. Then the riskiest industry was transportation and storage (8.1).

Table 13. Farmer’s fatal accidents at work compared with wage and salary earner’s fatal accidents in high risk industry per 100,000 farmers or wage and salary earners in 2011 to 2012

  2011 2012
Total Males Total Males
Farmers 5,2 7,8 9,4 14,0
Wage and salary earners 1,2 2,5 1,5 2,8
   Manufacturing 0,3 0,4 1,5 2,0
   Construction 3,0 3,3 5,3 5,8
   Transportation and storage 8,1 10,6 5,0 5,4
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 on level in recent years at slightly under one-fifth of all compensated accidents (Table on page 1 of the publication). Nearly every third (32.4%) 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 2012, there were 5,008 occupational accidents per 100,000 insured farmers, which is slightly fewer (-0.8%) than in 2011 (5,048). 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 5,694 and women 3,615 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 2012

Figure 11. Farmers’ accident at work per 100,000 insured by gender and age in 2012

More than six out of ten (65.0%) of farmers' accidents occur to those aged 45 or over. In 2012, the number of accidents was relatively highest in the age groups of those aged 55 or over: 4,915 per 100,000 farmers. The corresponding ratio for persons aged under 25 was 3,822 in 2012.

Most accidents occur in animal husbandry

The proportion of accidents occurring in various animal husbandry tasks was about the same as one year previously, or good four in ten (43.1%) of all accidents at work (Table 14). Especially women fell victims to accidents at work when tending cattle, as three fourths (75.4%) of women’s accidents at work took place in animal husbandry. Among men, the respective proportion was around one-third (33.0%). The second highest number (24.6%) of accidents occurred in other agricultural and forestry work, including tasks such as installation and maintenance of machinery and equipment. Approximately one sixth (14.3%) 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 number 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 2012

  T otal Males     Females  
N % N % N %
Total 3 698 100 2 817 100 881 100
Farming work               527 14,3 460 16,3 67 7,6
Animal husbandry 1 595 43,1 931 33,0 664 75,4
Forest work 362 9,8 336 11,9 26 3,0
Construction work 168 4,5 157 5,6 11 1,2
Other agricultural and forestry work 911 24,6 806 28,6 105 11,9
Other work 135 3,6 127 4,5 8 0,9

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 (32%) 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 every fourth (25%) of women farmers’ accidents was 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 2012

Figure 12. Farmers’ accidents at work by contact-mode of injury (ESAW) and gender in 2012

In more than one-quarter (27.5%) 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 (21.4%). The third most common material agent was noise, pressure, fire, light arcs, light, snow or stretches of water (7.8%).

Figure 13. Farmer’s accidents by material agent of contact-mode of injury in 2012

Figure 13. Farmer’s accidents by material agent of contact-mode of injury in 2012

In 2012, a total of 38 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 (34%). Seventeen 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 2012

Figure 14. Farmers’ accidents at work by type of injury (ESAW) and gender in 2012

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 2012

Figure 15. Farmers’ accidents at work by injured body part (ESAW) and gender in 2012

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

In 2012, insurance companies paid self-employed persons compensation for a total of 6,100 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 6,229 accidents. The data concern self-employed persons other than farmers.

In 2012, self-employed persons had 3,346 accidents at work that led to disability of at least four days. This is 74 cases fewer than in the previous year. The gender distribution of accidents at work is the same among self-employed persons as among wage and salary earners: the vast majority (76%) of the accidents of self-employed persons occurred to men. The age distribution of victims of accidents at work show that nearly two-thirds (64.9%) of self-employed persons’ accidents occurred in the 45 to 54 age group (Table 15).

Table 15. Self-employed persons’ accidents at work by gender and age in 2012

Age Total    Males  Females
N % N % N %
Total 3 698 100 2 817 100 881 100
46 1,2 37 1,3 9 1,0
293 7,9 223 7,9 70 7,9
724 19,6 516 18,3 208 23,6
1 336 36,1 1 006 35,7 330 37,5
1 066 28,8 843 29,9 223 25,3
Others 233 6,3 192 6,8 41 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 2012, Statistics Finland

Inquiries: Arto Miettinen 029 551 2963, tyotapaturmat@stat.fi

Director in charge: Riitta Harala


Updated 28.11.2014

Referencing instructions:

Official Statistics of Finland (OSF): Occupational accident statistics [e-publication].
ISSN=1797-9544. 2012, Wage and salary earners’ accidents at work . Helsinki: Statistics Finland [referred: 5.7.2022].
Access method: http://www.stat.fi/til/ttap/2012/ttap_2012_2014-11-28_kat_001_en.html