SWEDEN: Serious accidents and long-term sick leave in the food industry

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Workers in the food industry run a higher risk of serious accidents at work than other occupational groups. The average risk over the period 2017-2021 was 9.7 serious accidents at work per 1,000 employees. It was 15.5 for butchers and 8.9 for machine operators, who suffered the most serious accidents at work. Bakers and confectioners, although less affected, were still affected, with a rate of 5.3.

Afa Försäkring’s statistical report, which is based on almost 1,100 serious occupational injuries and just over 2,800 long-term illnesses recorded during the years 2017-2021, reveals the following information:

  • 25% of serious occupational injuries are attributable to the use of machinery (cutting saw or moving component of packaging equipment, conveyor belt in the production line, etc.),
  • Musculoskeletal disorders are the main reason for sickness absence,
  • Mental health diagnoses were the most frequent cause of long-term sick leave among bakers and confectioners,
  • Serious accidents predominantly affect men, while women are more likely to be absent due to long-term illness.

Injuries to fingers, hands, wrists and arms are most common among both men and women. Cutting yourself with a knife is the second most common cause of serious accident among men, particularly butchers, and falls from a height are the most common among women.

The statistics provide an important basis for deciding on research projects on the working environment and health funded by Afa Försäkring, explains Emil Askestad.

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