Occupational health

International statistical classification of diseases and related health problems (ICD-10) in occupational health

By Antti Karjalainen, Finnish Institute of Occupational Health
© 1999 World Health Organization

Classification of disease cover


Classifications of occupational diseases have been developed mainly for two purposes: (1) notification for labour safety and health surveillance and (2) compensation. The absence of unified diagnostic criteria, coding systems and classifications reduce the compatibility and comparability of national statistics on occupational diseases. The main purpose of this document is to serve as a guideline for the use of ICD-10 in notification of occupational diseases in countries which do not have a well-established notification system. The document contains general guidelines for the use of ICD-10 codes and a comprehensive list of ICD-10 codes which are relevant for notification of occupational diseases. The list enables one to select, for each country, a selection of occupational disease entities that are the most relevant when building a notification system for that country. The document also provides typical examples of the causative agents/risk factors and risk industries/occupations for each occupational disease. It is to be underlined that these lists are meant to be only examples and should not be taken as exhaustive. In order to increase the comparability of occupational diseases statistics, a detailed and specific enough coding of the medical diagnosis should be used. In this respect, the guidelines presented in this document could be helpful also in countries already possessing a notification system for occupational diseases. As the document is focused on the use of ICD-10 in the notification of occupational diseases, the use of ICD-10 in the notification of occupational injuries is only briefly described.

In 1997 WHO in co-operation with NIOSH (USA) prepared a draft document on the use of ICD-10 in Occupational Health. A group of experts reviewed the draft at an international consultation on “Strengthening of Health Surveillance of Working Populations – The use of International Statistical Classification of Diseases (ICD-10) in Occupational Health”, held in Geneva, 8-10 July, 1998. The consultation proposed some improvements and the report was finalised by the Finnish Institute of Occupational Health.

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