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MSDs causing more than a quarter of DALYs lost in NZ

Musculoskeletal harm now accounts for 27 per cent of all work-related disability-adjusted life years (DALYs) lost in New Zealand, according to a report from the country’s health and safety regulator, WorkSafe. A DALY is defined by the World Health Organization as one lost “healthy” life year.

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Mental health harm accounts for 17 per cent of work-related DALYs, cancers for 16 per cent and respiratory harm for 14 per cent, says Work-related health estimates.

Acute injuries – including fatalities – account for just 11 per cent, with hearing loss and heart disease responsible for 7 and 6 per cent respectively. The DALY measurement allows for meaningful comparisons between diseases with different harm profiles to determine which account for the largest burden of ill-health, says WorkSafe, as well as between work-related injuries and ill-health. The report estimates that 50,000 work-related DALYs are now lost annually, with a cost to the country’s economy at least NZ$2bn a year.

Workers in New Zealand are around 15 times more likely to die from work-related disease than a work-related accident, the document states. The country sees an estimated 5,000-6,000 hospitalisations a year as a result of work-related illness, with between 750 and 900 deaths.

“Deaths from work-related ill-health are at least an order of magnitude greater than deaths from work-related acute injury,” the report concludes. 


David Gilliver
David Gilliver is a freelance journalist, copywriter and subeditor

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