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July 30, 2008

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Annual reports highlight worrying trend of rising worker illness rates

The rising incidence of occupational illness is causing the HSE and Irish HSA major concern, as indicated by the annual reports of each regulator.

The HSE’s annual report 2007/08 provides a summary of the work of the watchdog and local authorities to improve health and safety in Britain. Although it points to the reduction in the number of major injuries, the incidence rate of work-related ill health per 100,000 workers showed a sudden rise — from 1850 in 2004/05 to 2090 in 2006/07 — while the number of working days lost also increased.

HSA chief executive, Martin O’Halloran, echoed the HSE’s anxieties at the launch of the Authority’s 2007 Annual Report and Summary of Workplace Injury, Illness and Fatality Statistics, which shows that the rate of illness causing four or more days lost from work has risen from 10 cases per 1000 workers in 2003 to 13 cases per 1000 in 2006. The number of days lost due to work-related injury and illness also increased from 1.5 million in 2005 to more than 1.7m in 2006.

Said O’Halloran: “[Occupational illness] is an area which we will be targeting further, and it’s important that employers and employees don’t focus solely on occupational injuries. Illness as a result of work activity is just as serious as having a physical injury.”

However, Irish fatalities also headed in the wrong direction, with the death toll for 2007 reaching 67 — still lower than the 74 deaths in 2005 but much higher than the 51 in 2006. The agriculture sector had the highest fatality rate, at 8.3 per 100,000 workers.

The HSE and HSA annual reports, and the latter’s statistics breakdown, can be found on the relevant agency website.

What makes us susceptible to burnout?

In this episode  of the Safety & Health Podcast, ‘Burnout, stress and being human’, Heather Beach is joined by Stacy Thomson to discuss burnout, perfectionism and how to deal with burnout as an individual, as management and as an organisation.

We provide an insight on how to tackle burnout and why mental health is such a taboo subject, particularly in the workplace.

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