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One million have work-related health issues

The Local · 25 Nov 2014, 10:34

Published: 25 Nov 2014 10:34 GMT+01:00

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Around one million people - 15.6 percent of Austria’s working population - said that they had a work-related health problem. Almost one third had back problems, and one fifth reported having neck, shoulder, arm or hand strain.

Work-related stress (5.7 percent) and depression (4.9 percent) were less of a problem.

Based on data gathered in 2013, the most frequently cited physical risk factor was eye strain (35 percent). Over a quarter of workers said that they had to carry heavy loads, had to maintain a physically uncomfortable posture, or felt exposed to the risk of accidents at work.

More than a fifth said they had to work in noisy, dusty, or very hot conditions.

38 percent of workers said that they experienced stress because of having to meet deadlines or working very long hours. 3.4 percent said that harassment or bullying was a problem at work.

The majority of people who experienced psychological problems worked in the health sector (51.2 percent), followed by transport workers (46.7) and those working in communications (48.9 percent).

More than a quarter of people who work or have worked in agriculture and forestry said that they had a work-related health problem. Other sectors with a significant amount of health problems were the construction industry (19.5 percent) and health and social services (18.4 percent).

186,000 (4.2 percent) of workers had at least one accident in 2012 - seven out of ten were men who failed to use tools or machines properly.

Martin Gleitsmann, Head of Social and Health Policy in Austria’s Economic Chamber (WKO), said that increased regulations meant it was hard to ask employers to take any more responsibility and that the onus had to be “on the individual to take care of his or her personal well-being”.

However, Bernhard Achitz, the executive secretary of the Austrian Trade Union Federation (ÖGB) said that employees should not be made responsible for their own mental health.  "Above all, back problems and psychological problems are often caused by work, or are reinforced by work. Therefore, prevention must begin in the workplace.”

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"Anyone who has spent years working night shifts, should be given the choice to work during the day," he added.

The ÖGB wants to reduce the amount of overtime worked by forcing companies to pay their employees a better hourly rate for overtime.

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