More than 90,000 workers self-reported catching Covid-19 at work during the past year, the majority in health and social work, according to latest figures from the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), and more than half a million felt their work-related illness had been caused or made worse by the pandemic.
The annual work-related ill health, non-fatal workplace injuries statistics concluded 1.7 million workers were suffering from a work-related illness in 2020/21, around half of which were related to stress, depression or anxiety.
Of the 93,000 workers who self-reported catching Covid-19 at work, 52,000 worked in the human health and social work sectors.
A total of 645,000 workers reported that their work-related illness had been caused or made worse by the coronavirus pandemic. Of these, 70% were cases of stress, depression or anxiety, the HSE said.
Because the pandemic had affected data collection and the assessment of trends, the HSE added that there was no new data on working days lost or the associated economic cost for 2021, as it normally publishes at this time of year.
Of the 1.7 million workers who suffered from a work-related illness (new or long standing) in 2020/21, 800,000 reported stress, depression or anxiety, and 28% musculoskeletal disorders (or some 500,000 workers).
HSE and Covid-19
HSE’s chief executive Sarah Albon said: “The 12-month period in question coincides with the first national lockdown and the unprecedented challenges of the pandemic. There have been significant impacts on the labour market, which is reflected in our reporting.”
The Institution of Occupational Safety and Health (IOSH) branded the figures “deeply concerning”, with IOSH’s Ryan Exley saying: “What makes these figures even more poignant is that many of these instances of ill health, injuries and death are preventable. No one should be harmed by the work they do and everyone has a part to play in ensuring that is the case, whether it’s senior leaders and health and safety professionals implementing measures to prevent harm or other workers ensuring they adhere to these measures.
“We urge all businesses to constantly review how they manage health and safety risks to ensure their measures are proportionate and fit for purpose. This is of course particularly important with Covid-19 control measures given the current surge of cases, but they must not take their eye off the ball with other risks,” he added.