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Health and Social Care Sector

The health and social care sector in Ireland is a significant employment sector.

According to the CSO's Labour Force Survey, there were 360,525 people working in NACE Q Healthcare and social work activities in 2023.


The European Agency for Safety and Health at Work has identified the main risk factors and related health problems in the healthcare sector, they include the following:

  • Musculoskeletal loads – poor working postures, heavy loads.
  • Biological agents – micro-organisms, viruses such as HIV and hepatitis B, contaminated blood.
  • Chemical substances – including disinfectants, anaesthetic gases and antibiotics. They may be harmful to the skin, or the respiratory system; they may be carcinogenic.
  • Radiological hazards.
  • Changing shifts, work rhythms and night work.
  • Violence from members of the public.
  • Other factors contributing to stress – traumatic situations and factors, the organisation of work and relations with colleagues.
  • Accidents at work – falls, cuts, needle punctures, electric shocks etc.

Risk assessment and effective health and safety management are the key to preventing and reducing healthcare workers exposure to work hazards.

The Safety Health and Welfare at Work Act 2005 requires employers to manage safety and health at work.

Evidence shows that the more committed leaders and senior management are to safety, health and welfare enhancement, the greater is the level of commitment of the workforce. This in turn promotes the prevention of workplace accidents and illnesses.

To aid smaller health and social care providers e.g. residential care facilities, medical centres, GP and dental practices in fulfilling their legal obligations under the Act, there are guidance documents in the publications section of the website and the safety management and risk assessment tool.

Further Information

Healthcare Sector publications