A new study by the Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI) and the Health and Safety Authority (HSA) investigates occupational injuries and diseases in the five sectors where the risks are still high: healthcare, construction, transport and storage, industry (manufacturing and utilities), agriculture, forestry and fishing.
These five sectors accounted for 41% of jobs and 56% of occupational injuries in 2014. With the exception of healthcare, together they accounted for 85% of all worker fatalities in Ireland in 2014. The number of fatalities is highest in the agriculture, forestry and fishing sector. The figure increased from 129 over the period 2001-2007 to 151 between 2008 and 2014. The others sectors were on a downtrend.
The healthcare sector recorded the highest total number of days lost due to work-related injuries, i.e. 92,000 days per year over the period 2008-2014, followed by the transport sector (82,000 days per year).
Overall, night workers, shift workers and new recruits incurred a higher risk of injury. Construction workers working between 40 and 49 hours per week were more likely to incur injuries per hour worked, after taking into account the characteristics of the workers and jobs. In the agricultural sector, although the persons who work long hours incur higher risks, part-time workers are exposed to a greater risk of work-related disease per hour worked. This part-time effect has also been observed in the transport sector.
According to Helen Russell, Research Professor at the ESRI, “The recovery is resulting in high growth in employment, which should be welcomed, but which could nevertheless entail increased risks for employees’ health and safety, such as longer working hours and an influx of inexperienced new workers.