GERMANY: Young workers and absenteeism

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Young workers have 2.5 times more accidents and apprentices are far more often absent due to injuries, according to a study by the German Employee Health Insurance Fund (Deutsche Angestellten Krankenkasse, DAK).

In 2015, 22 accidents were counted in the 15-19 age group, compared with only nine for all age groups combined. Respiratory diseases were the most frequent cause of sickness absences among young workers. About 76 diseases of this type were identified per 100 apprentices insured with the DAK. However, these absences have less impact because the apprentices are absent for only about four days.

On the other hand, for an injury, young workers are absent for 10 days on average, 20 days for a knee dislocation and 55 days for a femoral neck fracture. It has been found that not only do apprentices have more accidents, but also more serious accidents. “Young people have a greater tendency to take risks, explains Elisabeth Thomas, a doctor at DAK-Gesundheit. They practise risky sports and have different leisure habits.”

Top 10 conditions (as a percentage of days’ absence)
Among apprentices aged 15 to 19

  1. Respiratory diseases (28.6%)
  2. Injuries (19.5%)
  3. Infections (11.3%)
  4. Digestive disorders (8.6%)
  5. MSDs (8.2%)
  6. Mental illnesses (7.2%)
  7. Non-specific symptoms (5.8%)
  8. Conditions of the nervous system, eyes and ears (2.9%)
  9. Skin diseases (2.7%)
  10. Conditions of the urogenital system (1.7%)

Among workers aged 15 to 65

  1. MSDs (21.7%)
  2. Respiratory diseases (16.6%)
  3. Mental illnesses (16.2%)
  4. Injuries (11.7%)
  5. Digestive disorders (5.2%)
  6. Infections (4.6%)
  7. Tumours (4.5%)
  8. Cardiovascular diseases (4.3%)
  9. Conditions of the nervous system, eyes and ears (4.2%)
  10. Non-specific symptoms (3.8%)


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