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Sickness absence survey

Estimates suggest that sickness absence costs the UK economy around £12 billion annually and result in over 200 million lost working days. Research published in 2009 indicates high rates of sickness absence across the waste management and recycling industry. HSE has commissioned the Health and Safety Laboratory (HSL) to carry out a further but more extensive nationwide survey of sickness absence across the industry in 2010-12. The Waste Industry Safety and Health (WISH) forum are supporting this survey. The results of the survey will help identify activities where rates of sickness absence are particularly high. HSE and the industry will be able to use the results to better target future initiatives to reduce the risk of work related sickness absence, associated suffering and business costs.

How you can help?

HSL are inviting all organisations (public, private and community) active within the waste management and recycling industry to participate in the survey by providing data on their own sickness absence. Metrics have been developed to ensure consistency in data collection and survey protocols will make data submission as simple as possible.

If you would like to participate in the survey or have any further questions please contact the Project Manager, Matthew Henry (

What are the benefits?

Some indicative outputs that can be provided for contributors are detailed in the tables below. Early returns have shown that back, neck and other musculo-skeletal problems, injuries and mental health problems are particularly common reasons for absences. Also, long-term absences tend to account for the greater proportion of working days lost.

In addition to identifying sickness absence trends within your own organisation, it will be possible for contributors to benchmark themselves against the all industry absence rates or against similar (and different) work sectors. Tailoring the outputs to suit the individual needs of the contributing organisation is also possible.

Absence spells and days by sickness category and work activity

Table showing absence spells and days by sickness category and work activity

Profile of short and long term absences

Table showing profile of short and long term absences

Updated 2014-10-08