Wednesday 21 March 2018

Around 55,000 Irish workers suffered from work-related illness in 2013

Irish workers have been hit by MSD and SAD cases. Stock photo
Irish workers have been hit by MSD and SAD cases. Stock photo
Michael Cogley

Michael Cogley

Around 55,000 Irish workers were hit by work-related illnesses in 2013 causing a loss of 790,000 days of work, a new report has found.

According to the Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI), Irish employees are primarily affected by work-related stress, anxiety, and depression (SAD) and musculoskeletal disorders (MSD).

MSD affects a worker's mobility in areas such as muscles, tendons, or ligaments.

The research used CSO data to measure the number of days absent for the most recent illness reported by workers in a 12-month period.

The average length of absence for MSD was 15.9 days while the average length for SAD cases was 17 days. Both illnesses incur longer absences that any other type of work-related affliction.

The ESRI noticed rates of illnesses, particularly MSD, increasing during the boom years and decreased during the recession.

Women are at a greater risk of developing SAD illnesses with 5.8 in every 1,000 females experiencing it. This compares to 4 per every 1,000 male workers.

Elsewhere there were no gender difference in the rates of MSD cases.

Addressing the "long hours culture" and increasing awareness of mental health were among the suggestions for policy put forward by the Institute.

ESRI associate research professor Helen Russell said: “The research findings point to a need for targeted measures to address work-related illnesses, not only  to assist workers experiencing difficulties, but also to tackle the issues of lost productivity, and the associated costs for health care and social protection.

"As the rate of work-related illness increased during the boom years, it is especially important to consider implementing such measures as the economic recovery accelerates.”

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