Differences in the lethality of occupational accidents in OECD countries

Mariko Nishikitani, Eiji Yano

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Citations (Scopus)


International comparisons of the frequency of occupational accidents are rare because figures reported by each country are influenced by factors other than differences in the occurrence of actual accidents. In this study, we performed an international comparison of occupational accidents which distinguishes between fatal cases and all reported accidents, in order to control for the effects of other factors in accident reporting. Annual data on the numbers of fatal and non-fatal occupational accidents in member countries of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) between 1993 and 1998 were obtained from the Labour Statistics Database, which is operated by the International Labour Organization (ILO). The average incidence of all accidents across OECD countries ranged from 17 to 4608 per 100,000 persons in the labor force, whereas the incidence of fatal accidents across OECD countries ranged from 1 to 12 per 100,000 persons in the labor force. Lethality rates per 10,000 total accident cases ranged from 9 (Germany) to 3252 (Turkey). When comparing countries using the same statistical definition of accidents, three or more absence days, the difference in lethality of reported accidents within the same industrial sector is reduced to a sixfold difference (49 for the United Kingdom versus 333 for Ireland). Furthermore, the difference in lethality decreased to about twofold (18 for Spain versus 35 for Czech Republic) in the group using definitions with a criteria of one absent day. The results suggest that reported differences in lethality can reflect artificial administrative factors rather than the harmful factors that cause actual occupational accidents. To make more valid comparison of occupational accident between countries, harmonization of accident statistics is required.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1078-1090
Number of pages13
JournalSafety Science
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2008
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Safety, Risk, Reliability and Quality
  • Safety Research
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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