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RR464 - Identifying and evaluating the social and psychological impact of workplace accidents and ill-health incidents on employees

This research, and the literature review that preceded it, was commissioned by HSE. The review confirmed that there are few studies that have explicitly examined the impact of serious workplace-related injury and ill health on individuals, their families and their immediate social network. The study reported here examines the nature and extent of this impact in two specific work sectors: the construction sector and the healthcare sector. These sectors were pre-selected by HSE as representing two priority areas.

The research involved three complementary strands of work: short telephone interviews with a sample of employees within the relevant sectors who had experienced a serious workplace accident or suffered from a reportable illness, personal home interviews with a limited subset of the more serious cases and their family members, and lastly, further follow-up interviews with a subset of cases who took part in the home interview survey.

The study clearly demonstrates that serious work-related accidents and illness can have a widespread impact on individuals and their families. Many will find that their working life is significantly affected: they may be unable to return to work, need a change of job or role to accommodate new restrictions or be conscious that they now approach their work with a level of caution and deliberation not previously in evidence; many will also experience longer-term physical problems. There are also immediate and longerterm economic consequences, both in terms of loss of income (most evident in the construction sector) and the need for extra expenditure associated with the accident or illness. The results of this study also suggest that many individuals (regardless of sector) assign responsibility for both accidents and illness to their employer and will seek redress through financial compensation.

This report and the work it describes were funded by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE). Its contents, including any opinions and/or conclusions expressed, are those of the authors alone and do not necessarily reflect HSE policy.

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Updated 2009-05-05