Friday, December 1, 2023

Health and social care sector sees highest number of work-related injuries

The health and social care sector reported more work-related injuries than any other last year, with almost one-fifth of these incidents resulting from acts of aggression or violence.

New figures from the Health and Safety Authority show that 2,051 health and social care workers reported injuries in 2022, accounting for 23.6 per cent of all workplace incidents.

The most common causes of injuries were related to manual handling (559), slips and falls (430) and acts of aggression, shock and violence (398).

Health and social care settings reported 58.8 per cent of all acts of aggression or violence seen in workplaces last year.

Other causes of workplace incidents in the sector included body movements that led to cuts or bruises (102), and the loss of control of a machine or vehicle (88). A total of 437 incidents were classed as having ‘other triggers’ or causes.

The annual review of workplace injuries, illnesses and fatalities also noted that, in 2021, health and social work activities had the second-highest rate of work-related injuries leading to four or more days of absence from their jobs, at 15 per 1,000 workers. This was higher than the five-year average of 12.6 per 1,000 reported in the sector.

When it came to illnesses among health and social care staff, 2021 saw a significant increase, with an average of 56.8 workers per 1,000 taking absences of at least four days to recover. This compared to a 2017-2021 average of 29.1 per 1,000 workers.

Across all workplaces, 9,070 non-fatal incidents were reported to the Health and Safety Authority, an increase of eight per cent on the previous year (8,371).

In 2021 the overall number of days lost to work-related injuries fell by 40 per cent to 432,000 in 2021, when compared with the five-year average for 2017-2021 (604,040). The most common kinds of injury were dislocation, sprain or strain (5.4 per 1,000 workers) and wound or superficial injury (5.1 per 1,000 workers).

At almost 1.2 million, the number of days lost to work-related illnesses in 2021 was 16 per cent higher than the five-year average. The most common kinds of illnesses were hearing problems, headache, eyestrain, heart problems, and related diseases (12.9 per 1,000 workers), and bone, joint or muscle problems (10.6 per 1,000 workers).

Female workers had higher rates of four of the five kinds of work-related illnesses, most notably stress, depression or anxiety (9 per 1,000 workers), compared with male workers (3.5 per 1,000 workers).

Last year also saw 28 lives lost to work-related incidents in Ireland, with half occurring in the agriculture, forestry and fishing sector.

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