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31 August 2015

Switzerland: around one million people suffer (from) accidents and illnesses due to their work

A recent Swiss survey of the working population shows that in 2013 over one million people suffered damage to their health due to their occupational activity. Eleven per cent of those questioned reported suffering from a health problem linked to their work (750 000 people) and 6 % had been the victim of a workplace accident (316 000 people).

The risks of an accident are highest in agriculture and construction. Temporary and on-call workers are particularly vulnerable, as also are young employees and apprentices.

Sixty per cent of those employed are exposed in their work to at least one physical risk and 45 % to at least one psychosocial risk. Sixty per cent of the health problems involve bone, joint or muscle pains, which are more common among older workers and those with a low level of education.

Stress, depression and anxiety affect 19 % of those questioned. Workers with a higher level of education are affected more than average.

In 40 % of cases, these various problems have resulted in absences from work and 25 % of those affected have been unable to work for at least two weeks.

For Luca Cirigliano, who is responsible for occupational health at the Union syndicale suisse: ‘The “traditional” physical risks remain high, but we are also seeing a rise in “new” risks: stress, lack of time, pressure due to lack of staff, which are affecting all sectors. The new target-driven management methods, combined with cuts in staff and aggravated by the period of crisis, are significantly increasing stress levels for employees and worsening the dangers’.

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