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Table of preferred sources for injuries and ill health

preferred sourcesAcronym key

Preferred data sources for different categories of work related injuries and ill health
Nature of harm * Preferred data source Reason for preference
1. Injuries occurring in a wide range of occupational settings

Injuries

LFS

The Labour Force Survey (LFS) is the preferred data source for estimating the scale of workplace injuries in Great Britain. Annual data have been collected on a consistent basis since 1993/94, providing the best source for trend information, as well demographic and job-related factors about injured workers. Data from the LFS represents the views of workers, providing a more complete view than RIDDOR, as it is not subject to changes in legislation or operational activity, nor subject to substantial levels of under reporting.

As RIDDOR is collected for administrative purposes, it is available at individual record-level and represents the views of employers. In some situations such as specific research, it may therefore be possible to obtain finer levels of certain information not available through the LFS, for example specific geographical locations

2. Common conditions arising in a wide range of occupational settings

Stress

LFS

The Labour force survey provides our preferred estimate of the scale of occupationally related stress in Great Britain.

Our current research suggests that there is high correlation between self-reported and medically diagnosed stress in respect of attribution to work. The question has been asked in the LFS annually for the last decade and hence the LFS is the best source for trend information.

THOR –GP is the source which can best capture likely causes of work related mental ill health by asking patients about the events leading to the diagnoses of the condition at the general practitioner level to indicate probable/likely cause.

Musculoskeletal disorders

LFS

The labour force survey is the preferred data source for estimating the scale of work related musculoskeletal disorders in Great Britain.

Musculoskeletal disorders are ubiquitous in the working population, can occur as chronic or acute conditions and are often episodic in nature and severity. Our current research suggests that there is high correlation between self-reported and medically diagnosed musculoskeletal disorders in respect of attribution to work. The question relating to work related musculoskeletal disorders has been asked in the LFS annually for the last decade and hence the LFS is the best source for trend information.

THOR-GP is the best source for understanding likely cause of work-related musculoskeletal disorders by identifying the attributable task or movement and anatomical site related to the condition.

3. Common conditions arising in a limited range of occupational settings

Asthma

SWORD

In theory, GPs are best placed to capture most new cases of asthma that occur. However, the relatively small sample of GPs participating within THOR do not identify sufficiently large numbers of cases to provide good estimates of the overall scale of occupational asthma.

SWORD identifies a much larger number of cases of occupational asthma. Although it is restricted to cases referred to consultants and therefore underestimates the overall scale of disease, it provides a good basis for more detailed analyses and therefore is our preferred source.

Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disorder (COPD)

AF

A/F estimates are preferred since they do not rely on the correct occupational attribution of individual cases, which is particularly difficult for COPD since smoking is the predominant cause. The epidemiological data on which A/F estimates of the overall scale are based provide information about the contribution of different exposures, occupations and industries.

Cancer

AF

Due to the long latency and multifactorial nature of cancer development, there are considerable uncertainties and variation in the assessment of work attribution on individual cases. The data generated using AF do not require the assessment of work attribution in individual cases and  has the advantage over other sources of data, where the numbers of occupational cancer cases were counted based on self-assessment or assessment by physicians for disease surveillance or compensation purposes.

Noise Induced Hearing Loss

AF

There is no current, comprehensive source of data on work-related hearing loss.

The preferred source indicating the prevalence of work-related deafness in the working population of Great Britain comes from a study carried out in 1997/98 by the Medical Research Council which estimated that 509 000 individuals suffer from deafness as a result of exposure to noise at work. This was calculated by an Attributable Fraction method which does not rely on individual exposures which are difficult to ascertain.

The Labour Force survey estimates around 20 000 individuals become aware of work-related hearing loss each year.

From the IIDB we get numbers of new claims assessed for work-related deafness which is a measure of those most severely affected. Numbers are relatively small compared to the LFS with case numbers in the hundreds each year.

Skin disorders/dermatitis

EPIDERM

Occupational skin disease can vary widely in severity from, for example, skin cancers and serious cases of dermatitis, to minor skin irritation, which may not be recognised as an adverse health outcome by the individual. THOR-GP captures those cases which are of enough concern to have triggered a visit to a GP and be subsequently diagnosed and attributed to work. However, the relatively small sample of participating GPs results in imprecise estimates of the overall scale of occupational skin disease.

EPIDERM identifies a much larger number of cases of skin disease. Although it is restricted to cases referred to consultants and therefore underestimates the overall scale of disease, it provides a good basis for more detailed analyses and therefore is our preferred source.

4. Specific or rare conditions arising in a limited range of occupational settings

Asbestosis

IIDB

This is a serious lung disease with well established arrangements for state compensation and as such IIDB provides the best indication of the scale.

Asbestos-related lung cancer

AF

AF estimates are preferred since they do not rely on the correct occupational attribution of individual cases, which is particularly difficult for asbestos-related lung cancer since smoking is the predominant cause. Temporal trends and the past sources of risk are likely to mirror those of mesothelioma to some extent, for which detailed information is available from DCs and epidemiological studies.

Diffuse pleural thickening

IIDB

This is a serious lung disease with well established arrangements for state compensation and as such IIDB provides the best indication of the scale.

Hand-Arm Vibration disorders

AF

The preferred source to estimate the scale of Hand-Arm Vibration Syndrome (HAVS) in the GB working population is derived from the extensive study carried out by the MRC in 1997/98 which estimated that 288'000 individuals suffered HAVS as a result of occupational exposure. This Attributable Fraction method does not rely on measurement of individual exposure.

From the IIDB we get numbers of new claims assessed for HAVS and Carpel Tunnel Syndrome. This is a measure of the most severely affected by Hand Arm Vibration disorders.

Mesothelioma

DC

Most mesothelioma deaths in GB can be readily identified via the death certificate. Since the disease is rapidly fatal following diagnosis, mortality approximates to incidence. National mesothelioma mortality statistics have been collected on a consistent basis since 1968 so is the best source of information on trends.

The British mesothelioma case-control study (Peto et al. 2009, RR696) provides the best indication of the past sources of mesothelioma risk in GB.

Pneumoconiosis and silicosis

IIDB

This is a serious lung disease with well-established arrangements for state compensation and as such IIDB provides the best indication of the scale.

Other respiratory disease

SWORD

The specialist reporting scheme includes non-fatal cases and those who have not claimed for IIDB.

Infections

IIDB

Numbers of individuals assessed for occupational infections which are eligible for Industrial Injury and Disablement Benefit

* There are a number of conditions for which a proportion of cases are likely to be caused or made worse by work but for which HSE does not currently have a preferred data source, including cardiovascular, neurological and reproductive disease. HSE continues to monitor the epidemiological evidence about the causes of such diseases and will produce statistical estimates in future where it is feasible to do so with reasonable precision.

Updated 2015-11-18