The COVID-19 pandemic dramatically impacted the number and rate of nonfatal injuries and illnesses in 2020. There were 1,176,340 nonfatal injuries and illnesses that caused a private industry worker to miss at least one day of work in 2020, which was 32.4% higher than in 2019. Of these cases, 33.2% (390,020 cases) were categorized as “other diseases due to viruses not elsewhere classified,” which includes reported COVID-19-pandemic related illnesses. No cases in this category have been reported since 2016, so it may be assumed that all or nearly all of the 390,020 cases in 2020 involve COVID-19.

Unfortunately, no data are available regarding work-related or occupational fatalities related to COVID-19. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) is scheduled to release 2020 occupational fatality data on December 16, 2021. However, it is not anticipated that COVID-19 fatality cases will be included in the fatality count. Historically, the BLS excludes fatal occupational illness cases from its surveillance programs because of the difficulty of quantifying illness cases that often involve extended latency periods between the occupational exposure and onset of illness.

Because of illness cases related to COVID-19, the leading cause of work-related injuries and illnesses involving days away from work in 2020 is “exposure to harmful substances or environments.” This was previously the 6th ranked cause.

Using the interactive chart, several trends become clear. First, females are highly over represented, experiencing 72% of COVID-19 cases involving days away from work and an incident rate 247% higher than males. Second, the vast majority of cases involving days away from work occurred in the Health Care and Social Assistance Industry (74%). The Health Care and Social Assistance Industry experienced a COVID-19 case rate involving days away from work of 196.3 per 10,000 workers, compared to the all industry average of 40.0. Lastly, 62% of the cases involved 11 or more days away from work.

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Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor.