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20 October 2016

Report on the recognition of MSDs as occupational diseases in 10 European countries

A report published on 20 October by the French organisation Eurogip reviews the current situation regarding the recognition of musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) as occupational diseases in 10 European countries*.

The study reveals major differences in the number of MSDs reported by employees as occupational diseases: France, Belgium and Denmark boast high ratios per 100 000 insured workers (463, 263 and 257 respectively); Italy has a median ratio (150); Germany, Finland, Sweden and Switzerland have the lowest ratios (between 23 and 13 reported cases).

There are even greater differences regarding the recognition of MSDs as occupational diseases by health insurance funds. France is at the top of the ranking (ratio of 322 per 100 000 insured workers), followed by Spain (94), Belgium (82) and Italy (64). The lowest ratios (between 1 and 7) are found in Austria, Germany, Switzerland and Sweden which exclude certain MSDs from recognition, and/or which examine each claim on a case-by-case basis and are very demanding with regard to the causal link between occupational exposure and the disease.

In four of the ten countries covered by the study, MSDs represent a very large proportion of the total number of occupational diseases recognised: France (88%), Spain (75%), Belgium and Italy (69% in both). In contrast, this proportion is less than 20% in Germany, Austria, Denmark, Finland and Switzerland.

The growth trends between 2007 and 2014 are very contrasting, with countries displaying either a broadly upward or downward trend:

  • Switzerland, Sweden and Finland display a continuous and regular decline in the number of MSDs reported and recognised; Denmark and Spain show relatively stable curves since 2007, with a slight downward trend;
  • In Italy, MSDs have apparently stabilised since 2012, after growing continuously; Belgium has experienced a continuous increase in MSDs recognised since 2011; in France, following a continuous increase, there has been a reversal of the trend since 2012.

Generally speaking, these downward trends are, to a certain extent, the result of preventive measures but frequently can also be explained by changes in the regulations. Source: Eurogip

* Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Sweden and Switzerland.

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