What is the most common cause of work-related ill health?

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health and safetyA survey by YouGov on behalf of Croner has revealed that only 7% of the British public are aware that 12,000 or more workers die each year from health problems contracted at work.

It revealed that 36% thought that fewer than 500 deaths were caused by work-related illness each year, while 50% believed the total was less than 1,000 deaths.

However, it does reveal that 59% of the 2,000 adults surveyed recognise that stress is the most common cause of work-related ill health.

According to Health and Safety Executive (HSE) figures, more than 350,000 new cases of work-related stress arise each year.

The online survey asked respondents to identify what they believe to be the most common work-related ill health issues, and a similar number believed that cancer (12%), and musculoskeletal disorders (11%), were the most frequently diagnosed health problems that arose in the workplace.

However, statistics show that musculoskeletal disorders generated around 141,000 new cases each year, which is just over ten times more than cancer.

Safety Technical Consultant at Croner, Stephen Thomas, said:

“Although rates of work-related illness have generally reduced over the last decade, this is still a major problem in the UK.

“Stress is well recognised as a cause of occupational ill health, but the indications are that many employers are still not effectively managing it.”

He continued:

“For most people, including many employers, health and safety still tends to focus on accident prevention. Its health and safety with a small ‘h’, so occupational health is more likely to be overlooked.”

Stephen Thomas went onto say:

“Although workplace injuries can be tragic, life-changing events, occupational illness is a much bigger threat to UK business and its workforce.

“This research demonstrates that the true scale of the problem is largely underestimated and illustrates why employers need to be more proactive in protecting the health of their workers.”

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