Lancaster University experts hope to predict sickness in the workplace

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Researchers at Lancaster University are trying to predict when workers will phone in sick.

They have teamed up with risk management consultancy firm Business Safety Systems to form a ‘knowledge transfer partnership’, which it’s hoped will find ways in which employers can better predict absenteeism in the workplace and manage it.

Academics say they will use cutting-edge statistical methods to try to develop a way of accurately analysing characteristics and patterns in data in large population groups and individuals.

Dr Peter Neal, from Lancaster University, said: “We know that by looking at population groups there are key events that can cause greater absenteeism – such as during large sporting events, during a flu outbreak or when there is particularly severe, bad weather. The modelling of data will allow us to quantify this affect.”

Models developed from the research could help managers work out contingencies for staffing during times of predicted increased absenteeism.

The two-year project has been funded with more than £136,000, mainly from the Technology Strategy Board.

Email neil.shotton@business-safety.com to take part.

Sick days cost the UK economy £14.92bn a year, a survey by the Confederation of British Industry found.