In 2006, a landmark study to examine the psychological, economical, social and vocational impact of accidents at work and work related illness on employees was conducted on behalf of the Health & Safety Executive. The study focused on two pre-selected work sectors (healthcare and construction).
The study’s principal research aims were to identify and examine the:
- Economic, social and vocational impact of serious work accidents and industrial illness on workers and their families
- Behavioural and psychological impact of serious workplace accidents and work related illness on workers and their families
- Impact of work related accidents and illness over time
Established measurement instruments and a mix of open-ended questions during telephone and home interview schedules were used to evaluate the psychological consequences of work related ill health and work injuries.
During the telephone interviews, the TSQ (Trauma Screening Questionnaire) was used to assess the approximate degree to which accident victims may have experienced significant trauma symptoms (including PTSD, or post traumatic stress disorder). Goldberg’s anxiety & depression scales were used during home interviews to determine the extent of anxiety and depression in victims of accidental injuries and work induced illness.
Overall findings of the home and telephone interviews indicated that severe workplace-related ill health and accidents result in high level psychiatric morbidity. TSQ results further indicated that 27 to 31 per cent of people who suffered serious workplace injuries displayed symptoms suggesting they were at risk of PTSD. Cases exceeding the thresholds for depression and anxiety in both groups (illness and accidents) were two to three times more frequent than those reported in a 1998 HSE survey of industrial illness.
In terms of behavioural consequences, victims were reported to experience:
- Disturbed sleep
- Noticeable temperament changes (increased loss of patience, loss of temper, etc)
- Declining cognitive functions
- Decreasing sexual activity
- Increasing use of non-prescription and prescription drugs
As far as families are concerned, children’s behaviour in particular can be affected detrimentally by a family member’s work injury or illness.
Overall, the study suggested that psychological and behavioural consequences of sustaining an injury at work or suffering an industrial disease are not specific to work sectors, types of injury or illness, but a predictable after-effect of most severe working accidents and illnesses. These consequences may be taken into consideration when determining the awarded amount in industrial injury compensation claims. To find out more, contact an Accident Advice Helpline advisor today on 0800 689 0500.