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Work-related mental health problems noted

Mental health is the single biggest category of illness seen by Beaumont Hospital’s occupational health department in respect of cases “considered to be causatively linked with work risks”.

Of 27 such cases last year, over half (55 per cent) related to mental health, 41 per cent to musculoskeletal health and 4 per cent to dermatitis.

“The trends are fairly consistent to-date, with over 50 per cent each year relating to mental health,” according to Beaumont’s annual report for 2018.

“The plan in relation to this issue is to work with HR and managers in the coming year to implement training and strategies to improve the capability of managers to manage stress within their teams.”

The occupational health department reported that “much of our activity is driven by management referrals who seek guidance on employee fitness for work and whether any work restrictions are necessary”.

There were 5,471 attendances with occupational health physicians and occupational health advisors in 2018, compared with 6,656 the previous year.

According to the report, analysis confirmed this reduction as largely explained by reduced attendances with occupational health nurses. There were “many reasons for this” including staff shortages during 2018 (eg, maternity leave).

The report added that the nature of activities each year can change as periodic activities undertaken preventatively (eg, visual display unit assessments) are not done annually.

Of referrals by management (369), some 41 per cent related to musculoskeletal health and 26 per cent to mental health.

Meanwhile, the average absenteeism rate for the year was 3.32 per cent, which was “comfortably” within the HSE target of a maximum of 3.5 per cent absenteeism.

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