Since the beginning of the pandemic, the social accident insurance institutions Berufsgenossenschaften (BG) and Unfallkassen (UK) have received more than 350,000 reports of suspected occupational disease (OCD) related to COVID-19. The number was particularly high in the first half of 2022. 175,430 reports of occupational diseases were received by the Berufsgenossenschaften and Unfallkassen from January to June 2022, which was more than in 2021 as a whole. The Omikron wave has thus also had a significant impact on the insurance events in the social accident insurance system. This is shown by figures published today the German Social Accident Insurance (DGUV), the umbrella organisation of the social accident insurance institutions. Since the beginning of the pandemic, the social accident insurance has already recognised COVID-19 as an occupational disease in 195,739 cases. In addition, there are 20,452 cases of COVID-19 where the infection was recognised as an occupational accident and 12,496 cases in the school accident insurance. Since 2020, the DGUV has thus recorded over 220,000 insured events related to Covid.
Employees are legally insured against the risk of an occupational accident or disease at work. An illness from COVID-19 can also be considered an insured event under certain conditions. For workers in the health and welfare sector, the illness can be reported as a suspected occupational disease. For workers in other occupations, it is possible to report an occupational accident if there is clear evidence of an occupationally caused infection.
"COVID-19 is a considerable challenge for the social accident insurance system," says DGUV Chief Executive Officer Dr. Stefan Hussy. "In the years before the pandemic, we had an average of between 75,000 and 80,000 OCD notifications per year. Covid has changed that significantly." Nevertheless, he said, the social accident insurance reacted quickly and swiftly made comprehensive medical, occupational and social rehabilitation measures possible for the people affected. With the help of their BG clinics, the accident insurance institutions have already created care services for insured persons affected by post-COVID. The social accident insurance institutions support each other in the processing of cases and endeavour to process reports as quickly as possible.
The Berufsgenossenschaft für Gesundheitsdienst und Wohlfahrtspflege (BGW) accounts for the majority of OCD notifications. 131,757 cases of suspected occupational disease related to Covid-19 were reported to the BGW from 1 January to 30 June 2022. This means that after half of the current year, the amount of suspicion reports already significantly exceeds the figure for the whole of 2021 (111,126).
"Like the entire healthcare system, we as a social accident insurance institution are also under great strain," says Jörg Schudmann, Chief Executive Officer of the BGW, adding: "In the meantime, we have increased our staff and have constantly optimised our processes. We do what we can, but in view of these exceptionally high reporting figures, delayed processing cannot always be prevented." The most affected sector so far in 2022 is childcare, with 37,835 suspicion reports. A particularly large number of reports were also received from care (34,628) and hospital (23,794) sectors. Insured persons with longer courses of illness are cared for by the BGW's rehabilitation management. Since the beginning of the pandemic, this has amounted to a good 2,900 people in total - with a decreasing trend here: when comparing the illnesses in 2020 and 2021, a decrease in severe and longer courses of illness can be observed.