Figures released by the Republic of Ireland's occupational health and safety regulator, the Health and Safety Authority (HSA), show that 37 people died in work-related accidents in 2018. This is a 23% decrease on 2017 when 48 workers were killed. The farming sector accounted for the largest proportion of deaths last year - a total of 15 people died - even though workers in this sector make up only around 6% of the total workforce. However, it is significantly lower than the 25 deaths recorded in 2017.
Cases of work-related stress, depression or anxiety rose by 13% to 1,800 per 100,000 workers in the 12 months to April 2018 compared with 2016-17 when the condition became the most common work-related illness for the first time, overtaking musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs). While the rate of MSDs continued a long-term downward trend in the most recent period, dropping to a low of 1,420 cases per 100,000 workers, work-related stress has shown signs of increasing in recent years.
Hawthorne Works was the name of a factory near Chicago in the US, operated by Western Electric in the early part of the 20th Century. Although Elton Mayo of the Harvard Business School is the name most associated with the Hawthorne effect, he wasn’t involved until 1928, four years into data collection.
That is partly because, disasters aside, business leaders are not judged on their OSH performance. Their pay rises and upward moves are almost all determined by cost control and maximising profits.We often argue in these pages that OSH practitioners can do more to raise the profile of their discipline and persuade their employers to take them and their risk management skills more seriously. That’s true but, given the structural factors working against them, the profession’s cause could use some bolstering from outside.