The Danish trade union confederation LO, aware that under-reporting affects numerous EU countries, decided to try and quantify this phenomenon. The authors of the study compared data concerning victims of occupational injuries and diseases cared for in the emergency ward of Odense Hospital with reports recorded by the Danish Work Environment Authority, the DWEA, between 2003 and 2010.
The results show that half of the 50,000 occupational injuries and diseases occurring in the region of Odense Hospital were not reported to the DWEA. Of the 25,000 injuries and diseases unreported but treated in the emergency ward, 15,000 were minor. The authors of the study therefore excluded them from the calculation of the rate of under-reporting. The 10,000 remaining injuries and diseases added to the 25,000 reported to the DWEA probably represent the great majority of serious injuries and diseases occurring in the region of Odense Hospital between 2003 and 2010. This assumption is based on the fact that only one-third of all injuries and diseases are generally treated in the emergency ward, the others being mostly taken care of by general practitioners, physiotherapists, dentists, etc., and not by the emergency services. Most non-traumatic MSDs are a classic example, such as sprains, which are also among the injuries most likely to be reported to the DWEA.
Accordingly, for all serious injuries and diseases entailing at least one day’s absence, the best estimate of under-reporting is probably about 30%.