Investigation of occupational morbidity in wood processing industry in comparison with other manufacturing industries and with occupational morbidity in Latvia at large
The aim of the study was to investigate occupational morbidity in the wood processing industry to gain understanding of the real situation of occupational health and to improve the diagnostics of occupational diseases. The occupational morbidity in Latvia has gradually increased from 1993 to 2004, with a slight decrease in 2005 and 2006 followed by an increase in 2007. In the year 2004, the number of first-time occupational diseases patients exceeded the number of occupational diseases patients registered in the year 1993 by 9.5, but the number of registered first-time incidences of occupational diseases in comparison with 1993 had increased by 14.5 times. In the manufacturing industry, wood and cork production, a trend of increasing rate of occupational diseases can also be observed in Latvia. A particularly rapid increase was observed in specific illnesses related to the musculoskeletal and connective tissue system, carpal tunnel syndrome as well as to occupational hearing loss, which might be explained by changes in the occupational risk factors. Despite an increase in the total number of occupational diseases in the industry of wood and cork products over the whole study period, these industries have lower levels of occupational diseases in comparison with occupational morbidity in such fields as health and social care, the extraction industry and quarry management, transportation and transport services, communications and telecommunications. In developed European Union countries, over the last few years, the number of occupational diseases has decreased, while there has been an increasing trend in Latvia. This can be explained by the fact that the working conditions in the European Union have been improving over the last few decades, and correspondingly the number of occupational diseases is decreasing. However, in Latvia, the diagnostics of the occupational diseases is rapidly improving, while improvement of working conditions has started relatively recently. Furthermore, the process has not been rapid, and therefore, results could be expected only in the future.