Under-reporting of non-fatal occupational injuries among precarious and non-precarious workers in Sweden

2021-09-20

Background: Under-reporting of occupational injuries (OIs) among precariously employed workers in Sweden challenges effective surveillance of OIs and targeted preventive measures.

Objective: To estimate the magnitude of under-reporting of OIs among precarious and non-precarious workers in Sweden in 2013.

Methods: Capture-recapture methods were applied using the national OIs register and records from a labour market insurance company. Employed workers 18-65 resident in Sweden in 2013 were included in the study (n=82 949 OIs). Precarious employment was operationalised using the national labour market register, while injury severity was constructed from the National Patient Register. Under-reporting estimates were computed stratifying by OIs severity and by sociodemographic characteristics, occupations and precarious employment.

Results: Under-reporting of OIs followed a dose-response pattern according to the levels of precariousness (the higher the precarious level, the higher the under-reporting) being for the precarious group (22.6%, 95% CI 21.3% to 23.8%), followed by the borderline precarious (17.6%, 95% CI 17.1% to 18.2%) and lastly the non-precarious (15.0%, 95% CI 14.7% to 15.3%). Under-reporting of OIs, decreased as the injury severity increased and was higher with highest level of precariousness in all groups of severity. We also observed higher under-reporting estimates among all occupations in the precarious and borderline precarious groups as compared with the non-precarious ones.

Conclusions: This is the first register-based study to empirically demonstrate in Sweden that under-reporting of OIs is 50% higher among precariously employed workers. OIs under-reporting may represent unrecognised injuries that especially burden precariously employed workers as financial, health and social consequences shift from the employer to the employee.

Authors: Bertina Kreshpaj, Theo Bodin, David H Wegman, Nuria Matilla-Santander, Bo Burstrom, Katarina Kjellberg, Letitia Davis, Tomas Hemmingsson, Johanna Jonsson, Carin Håkansta, Cecilia Orellana
; Full Source: Occupational and environmental medicine 2021 Sep 20;oemed-2021-107856. doi: 10.1136/oemed-2021-107856.