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DETAILED DATA ON WORK-RELATED ILL HEALTH SURVEY

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A new report giving detailed information on the extent of...
A new report giving detailed information on the extent of

work-related ill health has been published by the Health and

Safety Executive. Self-reported work-related illness in

2003/04: Results from the Labour Force Survey, generally confirms

patterns, which have emerged over previous surveys in 1990, 1995,

1998/99 and 2001/02. The main headline figures from the report

appeared November 2004; full results are now presented in this new

report.

Important statistical note

The prevalence of an illness is the number of individuals suffering

from it at a given point in time (or period of time). In the SWI

survey, the prevalence is the count of people who have suffered from

the reported illness in the 12 months prior to their interview.

Prevalent cases may be long-standing, and have made their first

appearance years ago. The incidence of an illness counts the number

of new appearances of illness in a given period. In the SWI survey,

incidence is the number of cases where the affected person reported

that they were 'first aware' of the condition within the 12 months

preceding their interview. Prevalence can be thought of as a 'stock'

of illness, incidence as a 'flow' of new cases. Incidence rates are

calculated on the population working in the last 12 months;

prevalence rates may be calculated either on basis of the population

ever employed, or the population working in the last 12 months. The

data may also be analysed by occupational group, or by industry.

Trends since 2001/02

* The estimated prevalence (long standing as well as new cases) rate

of work-related illness was of a similar order in 2003/04 as in

2001/02.

* For people working in the last 12 months, the incidence (new cases)

rate of work-related illness in 2003/04 was lower than in 2001/02,

much of this due to a fall in musculoskeletal disorders, in

particular those which mainly affect the back.

* The estimated average number of annual working days lost per worker

due to work-related illness in 2003/04 was of a similar order to the

estimated rate in 2001/02.

Main findings for 2003/04

The headline figures previously released indicated that the estimated

prevalence of self-reported work-related illness in 2003/04 was 2.2

million, equating to 5.2% of people ever employed. An estimated 27%

of this total, 0.6 million people ever employed, were incident (new)

cases. Among people employed in the last 12 months, this equates to

an estimated incidence rate of 2.0%.

The estimated number of working days lost due to work-related illness

during the 12 month period was 29.8 million. On average, each person

suffering took an estimated 22 days off work in that 12 month period.

Averaged across the working population this represents an annual loss

of 1.3 days per worker.

Musculoskeletal disorders followed by stress, depression or anxiety

were by far the most commonly reported type of work-related illnesses

with corresponding prevalence estimates of 1.1 million and 0.6

million for people ever employed. The ranking was reversed for

incident cases, with an estimate of 0.2 million for musculoskeletal

disorders and 0.3 million for stress, depression or anxiety.

Furthermore, although the estimated annual working days lost were of

a similar order for the two conditions, the average annual days lost

per case was higher for stress, depression or anxiety (28 days) than

for musculoskeletal disorders (19 days).

This report provides a wealth of detailed information relating to

2003/04 for example:

* Males carried a higher estimated prevalence rate (for people who

have ever worked) of musculoskeletal disorders (3.0%) than females

(2.2%) whereas the corresponding estimated rates of stress,

depression or anxiety (1.3%) were the same. The gender-specific

incidence rates (for people working in the last 12 months) were

similar for musculoskeletal disorders (0.6% of males and 0.7% of

females), but for stress, depression or anxiety the rate for females

(1.0%) was higher than for males (0.7%).

* Estimated prevalence rates (for people employed in the last 12

months) were higher among employees than among the self-employed for

stress, depression or anxiety (1.4% of employees and 0.8% of the

self- employed). The opposite was true for musculoskeletal disorders

(1.5% of employees and 2.4% of the self-employed).

* Full-time workers carried higher estimated prevalence rates (for

people employed in the last 12 months) than part-time workers for

work-related musculoskeletal disorders (1.8% of full-time workers and

1.2% of part-time workers) and stress, depression or anxiety (1.5% of

full-time workers and 0.6% of part-time workers).

* Occupations with above average work-related illness prevalence

rates (for people employed in the last 12 months) included protective

service occupations (for example workers serving in police, fire

service and prison service) with an estimated rate of around 6.5%,

health and social welfare associate professionals (6.2%), skilled

construction and building trades (5.5%), teaching and research

professionals (5.1%) and skilled metal and electrical trades (4.8%).

The average work-related illness prevalence rate was 3.7%. Three of

these occupational groups (protective service occupations, health and

social welfare associate professionals and teaching and research

professionals) also carried above average incidence rates.

Furthermore, protective service occupations, along with process,

plant and machine operatives, carried above average annual days lost

per worker.

* Industries with above average work-related prevalence rates (for

people employed in the last 12 months) of around an estimated 4.5%

included: health and social work; public administration and defence;

transport, storage and communication, construction and education.

* Public administration and defence and health and social work also

carried above average estimated incidence rates and average days lost

per worker.

* Two broad occupational groups carried the highest estimated

prevalence rates of work-related musculoskeletal disorders (for

people working in the last 12 months) and accounted for a third of

the overall estimated prevalence of self-reported work-related

musculoskeletal disorders: skilled trades occupations (3.2%) and

process, plant and machine operatives (2.4%). The occupational

breakdown also identified health and social welfare associate

professionals with an above average estimated rate (2.9%).

* In line with the occupational breakdown, industries carrying above

average prevalence rates of musculoskeletal disorders (for people

working in the last 12 months) of around an estimated 2-3% were:

agriculture, hunting, forestry and fishing; construction; health and

social work and transport, storage and communication.

* Occupations carrying above average estimated prevalence rates (for

people working in the last 12 months) of work-related stress,

depression or anxiety were: teaching and

research professionals with an estimated rate of around 2.7% and

business and public service professionals with an estimated rate of

around 2.3%. Corporate managers (2.1%), health and social welfare

associate professionals (2.0%) and business and public service

associate professionals (1.8%) also carried above average estimated

rates. These occupational groups together accounted for around half

the estimated prevalent cases of self-reported work-related stress,

depression or anxiety (for people employed in the last 12 months).

* Industry groups associated with above average estimated prevalence

rates of work-related stress, depression or anxiety (for people

employed in the last 12 months) largely reflected this occupational

distribution, showing estimated rates of around 2% in public

administration and defence, education and health and social work.

The report, Self-reported work-related illness in 2003/04: Results

from the Labour Force Survey, can be accessed at

www.hse.gov.uk/statistics/causdis/swi0304.pdf

The main headline figures from the report appeared in Health and

Safety Statistics Highlights 2003/04

www.hse.gov.uk/statistics/overall/hssh0304.pdf in November 2004.

Notes

1. The Health and Safety Executive commissioned a module of

questions in the winter 2003/04 Labour Force Survey, to gain a

view of work-related illness based on individuals' perceptions. The

LFS is a household survey, and is intended to be representative of

the UK population. This is the fifth survey of self-reported

work-related illness undertaken in conjunction with the UK LFS. The

Health and Safety Executive commissioned a survey in 1990

covering England and Wales, and one in 1995 covering Great Britain.

The European Union Statistical Office commissioned the

third in 1998/99. This included most member states, but the UK

coverage was restricted to people working in the past 12 months

rather than people ever employed (as in the previous two surveys).

The fourth survey was commissioned by HSE in 2001/02 covering people

ever employed in Great Britain. The surveysare known as SWI90,

SWI95, SWI98/99 and SWI01/02 (surveys of Self-reported Work-related

Illness). Results were published in 1993, 1998, 2001 and 2003.

2. Headline results from the new survey (SWI03/04) which covers

people ever employed in Great Britain, were published in Health and

Safety Statistics Highlights 2003/04, providing estimates of the

overall prevalence (including long standing as well as new cases) of

self-reported work-related illness in the last 12 months, of

incidence (new cases) in the same period and of annual working days

lost due to work-related illness. This report focuses on releasing

more detailed results by a range of demographic and

employment-related variables. Some comparisons of the latest results

with those from 2001/02 (which have been revised as a result of the

2001 Census) are also presented.

3. Results are based on 4,531 people living in Great Britain in

2003/04 who reported a work-related illness caused or made worse by

current or past work. These individuals were identified by screening

a nationally representative sample of 90 649 people in the Labour

Force Survey. Since the results are based on a sample survey, there

is a range of uncertainty around all estimates. In the report the

uncertainty is expressed in the form of 95% confidence intervals,

which mean that each range has a 95% chance of containing the true

value (ie the value that would have been found if the entire

population had been surveyed).

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