The Chief Executive of the Health and Safety Authority has said that health, transport, agriculture and industry are some of the highest risk sectors for work-related illness and injury, but that the healthcare sector is number one.

Speaking on the News At One, Martin O'Halloran said: "We don't have a totally detailed picture, but we are finding that manual handling, giving rise to musculoskeletal disorders, stress, psycho-social, some cases of bullying are factors there."

He also said those working night shifts and shifts in general are at risk of ill health.

"There is quite a significant difference between those who are working the standard, or fairly standard 9 - 5 against those who work night-shift or shifts generally," he said.

His comments follow new research from the ESRI on work-related injuries and illness in five high-risk sectors , showing health sector workers are most likely to be off work due to work-related illness.

The research, from the Economic and Social Research Institute and the Health and Safety Authority, covers the period from 2001 to 2014 using nationally representative surveys of the workforce collected by the Cental Statistics Office.

It looked at a number of sectors including health, construction, transport and storage, industry (manufacturing and utilities), agriculture, forestry and fishing.

The health sector had the highest total number of days lost due to work-related injury at 92,000 days a year - followed by the transport sector at 82,000 days a year.

The health sector also had the highest number of days lost per worker due to work-related illness, at 524 days lost per 1,000 workers.

This was followed by transport (507), agriculture, forestry and fishing (358), industry (351) and was lowest in construction (313).

In all five sectors, new recruits were more likely to experience an injury compared to those with longer tenures, on a full-year equivalence basis.

The research found longer working weeks are associated with injury, and construction sector employees working between 40 and 49 hours a week faced a greater likelihood of injury per hour worked.

Part-time workers are also at higher risk of injury.

Research Professor at the ESRI Helen Russell said that the economic recovery is leading to strong employment growth.

"However," she said, "employment growth can bring with it increased risks to employee health and safety such as longer working hours and an influx of new inexperienced workers.

"Our research shows that new recruits in construction, health, agriculture and transport have a significantly higher risk of occupational injury.

Hence, there is need for supervision, training, and support to prevent rising injury and illness rates."