Industrial injuries divided by gender

The latest statistics from the Danish National Board of Industrial Injuries (Arbejdsskadestyrelsen) reveal that reported industrial injuries are divided by gender when it comes to work accidents and occupational diseases. Men and women are exposed to different types of industrial injuries and from within different occupational sectors. In addition, these differences have an effect on the recognition and compensation rate, where the figures also vary by gender.


The latest statistics on industrial injuries (in Danish, 406Kb PDF) from the Danish National Board of Industrial Injuries (Arbejdsskadestyrelsen) cover the period 2003 to 2009. The figures show that industrial injuries are different for men and women in terms of:

  • occupational sector;
  • types of injuries reported;
  • recognition (that is, the number of injuries recognised as an industrial injury by the National Board of Industrial Injuries) and compensation rates.

However, the figures reveal a different picture for work accidents and occupational diseases.

Gender differences in reported work accidents

Although overall men and women are exposed to injuries on the same parts of the body, the distribution of injuries varies between the sexes. Reported work accidents among women primarily involve the upper extremities followed by the back and the lower extremities, while those among men primarily involve the upper extremities, the lower extremities and the back.

In general, the majority of women reporting work accidents are employed in the health and social care sector while most of the men reporting work accidents are employed in the manufacturing and construction sectors.

The recognition rate during the period 2005 to 2009 was 4–5 percentage points higher among men compared to women. Furthermore, the proportion of recognised work accidents with no compensation received was 3–4 percentage points higher for women compared to men for 2003–2007 and about eight percentage points higher in 2008.

The National Board’s report stresses that the differences in recognition and compensation rates are probably because men and women sustain work accidents under different circumstances. Their employment in different occupational sectors also affects the possibility of getting the injury recognised as an industrial injury and thus receiving compensation.

Men and women suffer from different occupational diseases

There are clearer differences between men and women in terms of the types of occupational disease from which they suffer (see figure). The most frequent diagnosis among women is of mental disease followed by shoulder and neck diseases, and arm diseases. Among men the most frequent diagnosis is of hearing diseases followed by shoulder and neck diseases, and mental diseases.

Mental and hearing diseases provide the most significant difference between men and women. In 2009, 23% of the occupational diseases reported by women were due to mental diseases compared with 10% among the male group. Meanwhile 21% of occupational diseases reported by men were due to hearing diseases, compared with only 2% for the female group.

Gender differences in occupational diseases, 2009


Note: The chosen categories represent the four largest categories within occupational diseases.

Source: National Board of Industrial Injuries (2010)

The figures reveal a different trend for the recognition and compensation rate in relation to occupational diseases than for work accidents. From 2005 to 2009 the recognition rate among men was about twice as high as that among women. In contrast, there was a significantly higher proportion among men than for women of recognised occupational diseases where no compensation was given. One of the reasons for this is that more men than women suffer from hearing diseases and pleural plaques (that is, areas of scar tissue in the pleura surrounding the lungs), which are recognised as being occupational diseases but without there being any permanent injury and therefore no eligibility for compensation. The report also stresses that differences are caused by men and woman in general reporting different occupational diseases and working in different sectors.

The pattern for the prevalence of occupational diseases follows that for work accidents. In general, women reporting an occupational disease primarily come from the health and social care sector followed by manufacturing, public administration, defence and social services. Among men the majority reporting an occupational disease work in the construction sector, followed by the wholesale and retail trade.


The statistics from the National Board of Industrial Injuries show that the industrial injuries reported to it between 2003 and 2009 reflect the gender divisions of the Danish labour market, especially in terms of occupational diseases.


National Board of Industrial Injuries (2010), Forskelle på mænds og kvinders anmeldelser, anerkendelsesprocenter og erstatninger 2010 (406Kb PDF), Copenhagen.

Stine Milling and Helle Ourø Nielsen, Oxford Research

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