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Impact of work-related health problems on work capacity

In 2007, some 818,252 persons – 5.7% of people aged 15 years and over – reported suffering from at least one health problem over the previous 12 months caused or worsened by current or previous jobs. The extent to which the ailment impacted on the respondents’ subsequent work capacity varied according to individual circumstances. For the majority of respondents, the claimed health problems were not conducive to economic inactivity.

About the survey

In 2008, the National Institute of Statistics (Institutul Naţional de Statistică, INS) published the findings of a study entitled ‘Accidents at work and work-related health problems’. The study aimed, in principal, to provide data regarding health problems caused or worsened by respondents’ working conditions, the risk factors occurring in the course of some of the main types of work activities, occupational accidents and diseases, and their effects on the affected respondents’ subsequent work capacity.

The data used in the study were collected from a complementary survey, as an extension module of the Household Labour Force Survey (Ancheta Integrată asupra Forţei de Muncă în Gospodării, AMIGO) completed in the second quarter of 2007. The representative sample included 28,080 dwellings (about 0.38% of dwellings) and the registered non-response rate was 4.9%.

The target group included persons aged 15 years and over who were employed at the time of the survey or were previously employed. The information was collected through face-to-face interviews.

Survey findings

The survey revealed that 818,252 persons or 5.7% of persons aged 15 years and over had reported having health problems over the previous 12 months prior to the survey caused or worsened by their current or previous jobs. Musculoskeletal disorders, mainly affecting the back, were most frequently reported, followed by breathing or lung complaints, as well as heart disease.

Of these respondents, 37% stated that their subsequent work capacity had been seriously affected by their health problem, 59.7% that their work capacity had been only slightly impaired and 3.3% that the health problems experienced bore no consequences for their work capacity.

The health condition of each individual also had variable effects on their subsequent work capabilities, depending on personal characteristics such as gender or occupational status.

Gender differentials

Of the total number of persons who stated that they had suffered at least one health problem caused or worsened by their job within the previous 12 months, 403,054 of them (49.3%) were men and 415,198 (50.7%) were women (Table 1).

Table 1: Gender distribution of persons who reported a health problem caused or worsened by their work
  Persons reporting health problems caused or worsened by work Level of impact of health condition on subsequent work (%)
Not at all To some extent Very much
Total respondents 818,252 3.3 59.7 37.0
Men 403,054 3.7 61.2 35.1
Women 415,198 3.0 58.2 38.8

Source: Based on data from INS, ‘Accidents at work and work-related health problems’, Bucharest, 2008

Only 3.7% of the survey’s male respondents and 3.3% of the female respondents stated that their health problem did not impair their subsequent work capacity, while 35.1% of men and 38.8% of women claimed that their subsequent work activity was seriously affected by their respective ailment.

Distribution by respondents’ occupational status

Of all the persons who reported at least one health problem caused or worsened by work, 57.9% (473,498 persons) were employed and 42.1% were economically inactive persons. For 58.6% of inactive persons (pensioners, housewives, or persons supported by the state or other persons), the health problem caused or worsened by the workplace was the reason leading to their inactivity. On the other hand, for one fifth of employed persons, their reported health problem greatly impaired their subsequent work (Table 2).

Table 2: Extent of impairment on subsequent work, by occupational status of respondents
  Persons reporting health problems caused or worsened by work Level of impact of health condition on subsequent work (%)
Not at all To some extent Very much
Employed persons, of whom: 473,498 5.2 74,3 20.5
- employees 240,729 7.2 79.3 13.5
- non-employees 232,769 3.2 69.2 27.6
Inactive persons 344,754 1.8 39.6 58.6

Source: INS, 2008

Employed persons suffering health problems as a result of their work fall into two approximately equal groups of employees and non-employees. The highest percentage of employed persons reporting that their health problem highly impaired their subsequent work was registered in the case of non-employees. The majority of the latter group are self-employed individuals, unpaid family workers and members of agricultural households, mainly working in agriculture and performing physical work.

Commentary

The number of persons who claimed to have suffered from health problems caused or worsened by their workplace appears to be significant, considering that they account for 5.7% of the population aged 15 years and over, even if their health problems were not documented by medical certificates.

For almost half of these persons, the claimed health problems were not conducive to economic inactivity. However, the share of respondents who stated that they are no longer working and who believed that they would not be able to work again remains high (13.2%).

Luminiţa Chivu, Institute of National Economy, Romanian Academy



Page last updated: 05 June, 2009
About this document
  • ID: RO0905019I
  • Author: Luminiţa Chivu
  • Institution: Institute of National Economy, Romanian Academy
  • Country: Romania
  • Language: EN
  • Publication date: 05-06-2009
  • Subject: Work-related health outcomes