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Accidents the fourth leading cause of death in Finland

Society spends some 1.5 billion euros annually on accidents that occur at home and during leisure time activities.

Jalka kipsissä.
Image: Alistair Scott / AOP
Denise Wall

Men are involved in 80 percent of workplace accidents, but haste and alcohol make both sexes prone to accidents that occur off the job.

“Some 80 percent of fatal workplace accidents involve men,” Finnish Federation for Social Affairs and Health public health specialist Tuuli Lahti told Yle’s Aamu-tv breakfast programme on Friday the 13th.

Health and safety officials want to use the occasion to promote discussion about the causes and consequences of accidents involving men as well as to provide pointers on how to avoid accidents in everyday life.

According to Lahti, men are especially accident-prone at home and on the move. While accidents in the workplace have been on the decline, Lahti noted, men may have forgotten the solid safety measures practiced in the workplace while they are home working on a DIY project, for instance.

“In a familiar environment people may not pay attention to safety and then these incidents may occur. When spring arrives we take out the hammers and saws and we certainly see that at health centres. In the same way, as grilling season approaches we see different burns of varying degrees of severity,” she explained.

However one factor driving the occurrence of accidents unites both sexes. According to Lahti, haste is a frequent offender that may cause people to lose focus. In Finland alcohol plays a regrettably significant role in some accidents, she noted.

“Then there are cases where [people] don’t have the right equipment or protective clothing. They are important, whether in traffic, during hobbies or doing a bit of home improvement. Preparation is the be-all and end-all,” Lahti declared.

Accidents cost society 1.5 billion euros annually

The most frequent cause of accidents is exercise, and men also appear to be in the majority in this instance, the organisation found.

“A lot can happen in the action-packed contact sports that men favour. You get different kinds of collisions, tackles and related bumps, bruises and wounds that come from that,” Lahti expanded.

The most common types of accidents are falls. For example slippery conditions outdoors can be very dangerous for older people. Another typical case involves climbing onto a shaky chair to reach for an item in a high cupboard at home – the end result can easily be imagined.

According to the public health specialist, accidents are Finland’s fourth-leading cause of death.

“Every year some 2,500 people in Finland die in accidents and of course that’s 2,500 too many. It has been estimated that society spends roughly 1.5 billion euros every year on accidents that occur at home and during leisure activities. This is one of our most important public health issues,” she concluded.

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