Impact of Occupational Accidents on the Socio-Economic Status of Injured Workers

By Pierre Desmarez, I. Godin, Bernard Renneson

Unlike their North-American colleagues, European researchers have not paid much attention to the impact of workplace accidents on the socioeconomic status of permanently impaired workers. Indeed, this is the first study on this topic conducted in Belgium.
This study considers all victims of accidents in the private sector whose cases were settled in?1997, 1998 and?1999. The linkage between different social security databases allows a follow-up of the socioeconomic positions of 97?% (N = 17 983) of them during a period of at least?2 and up to 3?years after the settlement of the accident. One year after the event, about 85?% of the injured workers can be reallocated to the labour force category?: 77?% are employed and about 8?% are unemployed. These figures slightly decrease during the following two years, mainly because of the growing number of early retired and sick people. At the end of the period studied, about 9?% of the victims are (early) retired and 6?% sick. These different rates vary considerably according to gender, age and injury severity. The return-to-work rate is, for example, higher for men than for women and decreases with injury severity. Unemployment rates increase with injury severity and are higher for women. Multivariate analysis shows that age, gender and injury severity are statistically significant risk factors of (un)employment or of being professionally (in)active. The negative impact of injury severity and the fact that the situation is worse for women are recurrent factors.
Estimation of return-to-work rates in the different categories of industry shows that these are higher in some branches of activity (e.g.?manufacturing) compared to others (e.g.?building industry, hotels and restaurants). Rates are also higher amongst white collar workers than blue collar workers.
A follow-up of the injured workers shows that 89?% of the workers who were employed after one year were also employed two years later. During the same period, about 30?% of the unemployed had returned to work, and 43?% of those unemployed after one year remained unemployed two years later.
Continuous trajectories are the most common situations of the injured workers, with notable differences between men and women. During the three years under study, 72?% of men and 64?% of women were employed. After this comes early retirement for men (6?%) and unemployment for women (6?%). Whilst multivariate analysis confirms the correlation of these paths with injury severity, nevertheless gender and in some cases age remain significant predictors.


  • Return-to-work
  • Occupational disability
  • Labour force participation
  • Occupational injury
  • Administrative data
Go to the article on