The number of confirmed cases of occupational disease decreased by approximately one-fourth in 2011–2015. The most common confirmed occupational disease is noise-related injury. Noise-related injury refers to hearing impairment associated with the inner ear, caused by long-term exposure to noise. The second-most commonly confirmed occupational disease is pleural plaques caused by asbestos. Pleural plaques are caused by exposure to asbestos in past decades when asbestos was commonly used in construction materials, for example. Noise-related injury and pleural plaques still account for approximately one-half of the number of confirmed occupational diseases each year.
With regard to occupational dermatological diseases, irritant contact dermatitis and allergic contact dermatitis are among the most common occupational diseases. Work involving contact with water is the most common cause of irritant contact dermatitis. Allergic contact dermatitis, on the other hand, is caused by epoxy chemicals, rubber chemicals, metals and preservatives, among others. The majority of occupational asthmas are caused by sensitizing factors. Approximately one in four occupational asthmas are caused by exposures to moisture damage and moulds. Irritant-induced asthmas are also confirmed as occupational diseases. Occupational allergic rhinitis is caused particularly by e.g. plant and animal-based exposure agents. The most common musculoskeletal stress disease confirmed as an occupational disease is lateral epicondylitis (tennis elbow), caused by repetitive work. Asbestosis caused by asbestos and mesothelioma (cancer of the pleura or peritoneum) also ranks among the most common occupational diseases. More than 95% of lung cancer cases confirmed as occupational diseases are caused by strong exposure to asbestos during work.
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Almost 80% of confirmed occupational diseases occur among men. In the working-age population, the difference between genders is balanced slightly, as women account for more than one-fourth of confirmed cases of occupational disease among the working-age population. The spectrums of the most common occupational diseases among women and men differ. Noise-related injury and pleural plaques caused by asbestos, which are common among men, do not rank at the top in women’s occupational disease statistics, where the most common occupational diseases include irritant contact dermatitis, allergic contact dermatitis and occupational asthma. Occupational diseases in the working-age population are particularly commonly recorded in the age groups 60–64 years and 55–59 years. Approximately one in four occupational diseases confirmed in those aged over 65, or a substantial share of occupational diseases, are diagnosed after the end of the person’s working career.
Reviewed by industry, the highest number of cases of occupational disease is diagnosed in e.g. industry (in particular, manufacturing of metal products, machinery and equipment, food processing, manufacturing of paper, paper products and board products and manufacturing of vehicles (trains, planes, ships), construction, agriculture, wholesale and retain, repair of motor vehicles and motorcycles and health care.
Reviewed by occupation, the highest number of cases of occupational disease is diagnosed in e.g. construction workers, metal, machinery and related trades workers and, farmers and animal breeders, stationary plant and machine operators (in particular, process workers in the manufacture of rubber, plastic and paper products) and personal service workers (in particular, hairdressers, barbers and cosmetologists, as well as catering industry workers).
With regard to exposure agents, occupational diseases are particularly caused by noise, asbestos, detergents, resins and plastics, cutting fluids, rubber chemicals, repetitive work, flour, grains and feeds, animal epithelium, hair and secretions (especially cows), work involving contact with water, dirty work, moulds, Puumala virus (causes epidemic nephropathy), itch mites, storage mites and hand vibration.
Investing in the prevention of occupational disease continues to be of paramount importance. A significant portion of occupational diseases could be prevented by way of up-to-date workplace risk assessment, development of working conditions, correct working methods and communication.