The German Social accident insurance institutions for trade and industry and the German social accident insurance institutions for the public sector have recognised over 100,000 cases of COVID-19 as occupational illnesses since the beginning of the pandemic up to and including August 2021. This has been announced by their umbrella organisation, the German Social Accident Insurance (DGUV). In addition, there have been over 10,000 instances in which a case of COVID-19 was recognised as an accident at work or school. The pandemic is therefore continuing to impact insurance claims recorded by social accident insurance institutions. According to provisional figures for the first half of 2021, there were significantly more occupational illnesses, while occupational and commuting accidents remained below 2019 levels.
Commenting on these statistics, Dr Stefan Hussy, Director General of the DGUV, said: "These figures remind us of the power that the coronavirus can unleash, especially during the colder months." Despite comprehensive protective measures, many people had become infected at work, particularly in the health sector. Apparently, however, there is still a lack of data to estimate the consequences, and it is especially unclear how many of the insured are suffering from long COVID. In view of the spread of the delta variant of the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus and the approaching cold season, the Director General of the DGUV therefore has an urgent message: "If you have the option of getting yourself vaccinated, but you still haven’t done so: please make sure you do!" Vaccination centres can be found at www.hierwirdgeimpft.de.
Even if workplaces are not the main source of infections, they do still play a role. Since the beginning of the pandemic, social accident insurance institutions have recognised COVID-19 as an occupational illness in 103,244 insured persons and a result of an accident at work or school in 10,202 insured persons. The number of established occupational cases of COVID was 78,294, with the majority occurring in the period from January up to and including June 2021. The persons who were affected were, in particular, employees in the health and welfare sectors. In all, 84 insured persons died of COVID-19 between the outbreak of the pandemic and the end of August 2021.
The pandemic continued to influence the number of occupational accidents in the first half of 2021. According to provisional figures from the German social accident insurance institutions for trade and industry and the German Social Accident insurance institutions for the public sector, there were 392,847 occupational accidents and 86,792 commuting accidents from January up to and including June. Although these figures were higher than those for the same period last year (367,016 and 73,039 respectively), they were still significantly lower than in the first six months of 2019 (432,684 and 91,558 respectively).
In the first half of 2021, 8,127 insured persons began to draw an accident pension for the first time – 608 fewer than during the same period in the previous year. The number of fatal occupational accidents, on the other hand, rose by 33 to 204. Another 97 insured persons died as a result of commuting accidents – 9 fewer than in the same period last year.
The German Social Accident Insurance Institutions for the Public Sector responsible for the accident insurance of schoolchildren recorded an overall total of 185,310 accidents at school and 17,129 accidents on the way to or from school. This amounts to 39% fewer at school and 36% fewer on the way compared with the first half of 2020 and about two thirds fewer accidents than in the first half of 2019.
"Developments in insurance claims show how massively the pandemic has changed our working lives," Hussy explains. This impact has apparently been both direct and indirect. "Indirect, because accident figures have gone down due to reductions in working hours, employees working from home and home schooling. Direct, because claims for occupational illness have virtually exploded due to COVID-19."
The German Social Accident Insurance has been using the hashtag #ImpfenSchützt (#VaccinationProtects) since March to promote vaccination, particularly on social media. The DGUV has published a series of advertising posters, which it has made available to companies and institutions in its database: www.dguv.de/impfenschuetzt
Further details on COVID-19 as an insured event in the German Social Accident Insurance are available at https://www.dguv.de/de/mediencenter/hintergrund/corona_arbeitsunfall/index.jsp(in German only).