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Ireland's health workers take the most sick days due to their work

The transport sector had the second highest number of sick days due to work related injuries and illnesses.

Image: Shutterstock/Syda Productions

THE HEALTH SECTOR was the sector with the highest number of days lost due to work-related injury, equating to 92,000 days per year between 2008 and 2014.

New research from the ESRI and the Health and Safety Authority has analysed figures on work-related injuries and illness over a 13-year period in five sectors with persistently high risks.

Those sectors are health; construction; transport and storage; industry (manufacturing and utilities) and agriculture; forestry and fishing.

These five sectors account for 41% of employment and 56% of work-related injury in 2014. The research tracks experiences over the period 2001 to 2014 using nationally representative surveys of the workforce collected by the CSO.

Health and transport

The transport sector had the second highest number of days per year (82,000), but also had the highest number of days lost per worker due to work-related injury.

Adjusting for the numbers employed in each sector revealed that between 2008 and 2014, the highest annual average number of days lost to injury per 1,000 workers occurred in the transport sector (766) followed by construction (532), agriculture (413), health (329) and industry (282).

The health sector also had the highest number of days lost per worker due to work-related illness. In that sector, 524 days were lost per 1,000 workers. This was followed by transport (507), agriculture, forestry and fishing (358), industry (351) and was lowest in construction (313).

Other workers

In all sectors examined except construction, night workers and shift workers had a higher risk of injury compared to workers not working these hours.

In all five sectors, new recruits were more likely to experience an injury compared to those with longer tenures, on a full-year equivalence basis.

Longer working weeks are associated with injury. Construction sector workers working between 40 and 49 hours a week faced a greater likelihood of injury per hour worked, after adjusting for worker and job characteristics.

Part-time workers are also at higher risk of injury. In the agriculture sector, while those working long hours had the highest risks of injury overall, part-time workers were found to face a greater risk of work-related illness per hour worked. This part-time effect was also found in the transport sector.

Minister of State with Special Responsibility for Trade, Employment, Business, EU Digital Single Market and Data Protection Pat Breen said it was “vital” to protect the health and safety of all employees.

The research published today will greatly assist in identifying employees across a range of sectors who might be at risk of workplace related injury or illness.

Martin O’Halloran, CEO of the Health and Safety Authority said:

“It confirms to us that we need to have a greater focus on health and that our overall strategic direction in the area of workplace health is correct.”

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