14 May Work-place Injuries Report
New research report “Trends and Patterns of Occupational Health and Safety in Ireland” launched
The Minister for Business and Employment, Ged Nash TD, launched a new research report by the ESRI “Trends and Patterns of Occupational Health and Safety in Ireland” earlier today, 14 May. The study was undertaken as part of the ESRI/Health and Safety Authority Research Programme on Health, Safety and Wellbeing at Work.
The report examines how the risk of work-related injury and illness changed over the period from 2001 to 2013. Some of the main findings include:
➔The annual workplace injury rates have fallen by approximately one third since 2001 from 29.6 per 1,000 workers to 18.9 per 1,000 workers in 2012
➔The highest injury rates are found in five economic sectors: agriculture/forestry/fishing, Industry, Construction, Transportation and health/social work.
➔The fatality rate has halved in the 15 year period from 1998, with agriculture/forestry and fishing having the highest fatality figures
➔Younger workers are most at risk of injury, with men experiencing a much higher risk of work-related injury than women
➔There is a link between highly variable working hours and higher injury and illness risks. There is also a link between shift-work and night work and higher injury/illness risks.
➔The risk of injury and illness in work rose during the boom and fell during the recession
➔There is a positive correlation between inspections and securing compliance at workplace level.
Commenting on the report, Minister Nash said, “This report confirms that Ireland performs better than average among European countries in the field of occupational health and safety. However, with 47 workers on average losing their lives every year from 2004-2013, we cannot be complacent.”
“At the core of my dignity at work agenda, is the right of every worker to return to their family safe and sound at the end of their working day. My Department is working with the Health and Safety Authority to ensure we have an effective and consensually supported safety regulation regime to do just that.
“I am particularly concerned about the link between precarious or highly variable working hours and workplace injuries and illness. I am referring this report to the University of Limerick who are currently undertaking a study into zero hour contracts at my request and look forward to receiving their recommendations at the end of the summer.”
Minister Nash added, “This study by the ESRI is particularly timely as we move towards the goal of full employment by 2018. It highlights that the risk of injury and illness was at its highest during the boom. Accordingly, without determined action by all stakeholders, workplace accident rates are likely to increase as our economy recovers. The Government is taking targeted action particularly in two of the sectors with the greatest risk – Agriculture and Construction, through the roll out of initiatives like Be Smart www.BeSMART.ie and worker safety elements in agriculture grants and the Construction 2020 strategy.”
The significant under-reporting of injuries by the self-employed is another issue highlighted by the report. Ireland, however, is one of the European countries which has led the way in ensuring that the self-employed are covered by national safety and health legislation. In eight other EU Member States the self-employed are not brought within the scope of national legislation. Minister Nash has indicated he hopes the EU will address this gap in the future.