Employment status of workers with a diagnosed occupational disease in Croatia: a 10-year trend (2005-2014)
Occupational diseases (ODs) often have a chronic, progressive course, resulting in reduced work capacity and quality of life, prolonged sick leaves, unemployment, early retirements, and disability claims. The aim of this retrospective study was to see how diagnosed ODs affected the employment of 95 Croatian workers between 2005 and 2014. To do that, we reviewed archived data and made a telephone survey. The lowest age at which an OD was diagnosed was 20 years in women and 22 in men, while the shortest duration of work before OD diagnosis was one year for both genders. The most common ODs were overuse syndromes on the arms, carpal tunnel syndrome in particular, diagnosed mostly in textile and office workers. Of the 95 participants, 12 lost their jobs since the OD diagnosis, 46 retired, and 37 continued to work. Significantly more participants became unemployed after OD diagnosis in the period 2010-2014 than 2005-2009 (9 out of 43, 21 %, vs. 3 out of 52, 6 %, p<0.05). Only five participants were included in an occupational rehabilitation programme. Our findings warn against the deterioration in care for workers diagnosed with OD in Croatia.