It is official — the boom which made Ireland one of the richest countries in the world was bad for the health and safety of workers. However, the recession which followed was also bad for workers’ health – but significantly harder on women than men.
A body of international research has investigated the link between the economic cycle and workplace injury and illness and the dramatic changes…experienced in Ireland. The key findings from a new report from the Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI) published reveals that;
- An average of 47 workers lost their lives each year between 2004 and 2013
- Employment-related injuries affected an average of 47,000 each year between 2001 and 2012
- An average of 48,000 people a year suffered from a work-related illness
- The economic cost of illnesses is substantial – amounting to €14.5 million in 2013
The report’s authors, said the risk of both injury and illness rose in the boom period from 2001–2007, and fell during the recession, between 2008–2012. This was attributed to the rise in the proportion of inexperienced new recruits during periods of economic growth, and to increases in work intensity and hours of work. The literature also suggests that during a period of recession workers may feel insecure and are more reluctant to report injuries or to take time off.
Younger workers have the highest risk of injury and men experience a much higher risk than women – even when they are in the same sector and occupational group, and work the same hours.
The risk of work-related illness also rises with age but levels off at the oldest age groups, as less-healthy workers exit the workforce sooner.
Figures for 2011 reveal that 1.8 million working days were lost in Ireland due to work-related incidents and illness.
The risk of work-related injuries was persistently higher in construction, farming/forestry/fishing, health, the accommodation and food sector, and industry.
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