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Annual incidence of occupational diseases in economic sectors in The Netherlands


Objective To report the annual incidence of occupational diseases (ODs) in economic sectors in The Netherlands.

Methods In a 5-year prospective cohort study (2009–2013), occupational physicians were asked to participate in a sentinel surveillance system for OD notification. The inclusion criteria for participation were (1) covering a population of employees, (2) reporting the economic sectors and the size of their employee population and (3) willingness to report all diagnosed ODs. In this study, an OD was defined as a disease with a specific clinical diagnosis that was predominantly caused by work-related factors. The economic sectors (n=21) were defined according the NACE (Nomenclature des Activités Économiques dans la Communauté Européenne) classification.

Results In a total working population of 514 590 employees, 1782 ODs were reported over 12 months in 2009. The estimated annual incidence for any OD was 346 (95% CI 330 to 362) per 100 000 worker-years. Of all the ODs, mental diseases were reported most frequently (41%), followed by musculoskeletal (39%), hearing (11%), infectious (4%), skin (3%), neurological (2%) and respiratory (2%) diseases. The four economic sectors with the highest annual incidences per 100 000 workers were construction (1127; 95% CI 1002 to 1253), mining and quarrying (888; 95% CI 110 to 1667), water and waste processing (832; 95% CI 518 to 1146) and transport and storage (608; 95% CI 526 to 690).

Conclusion ODs are reported in all economic sectors in The Netherlands. Up to 91% of all ODs are mental, musculoskeletal and hearing diseases. Efforts to increase the effective assessment of ODs and compliance in reporting activities enhance the usability of incidence figures for the government, employers and workers.

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