New Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) data reveals nonfatal workplace injuries and illnesses decreased in 2020, but the numbers for more severe cases involving days away from work increased.
There were 2.7 million nonfatal workplace injuries during 2020, which is down from the 2.8 million seen in 2019, resulting in a 5.7% decrease.
Impact of pandemic
The BLS report reveals there were fewer workplace injuries and illnesses, but more severe cases from more illnesses due to the coronavirus.
Out of the cases involving days away from work, 32% were categorized as other diseases due to viruses not elsewhere classified, including reported COVID-19 cases.
In fact, total reported illness cases “more than quadrupled” due to a whopping 4,000% increase in employer-reported respiratory illness cases.
There were 10,800 such illnesses in 2019. In 2020 there were 428,700.
Age not a factor
According to the NSC, before 2020, injury and illness trends involving days away from work by age group showed a clear increase in such cases for workers 55 and older.
But in 2020, all age groups saw an increase due to 390,020 COVID-19 cases which represented 33% of all cases involving days away from work.
Women represented more cases
The BLS data also points to a shift in women experiencing “slightly more injury and illness involving days away from work than men.”
Women were represented twice as frequently as men in the illness category, which includes COVID-19. Men came in at 108,080 cases while women had 276,190.
That occurred for the first time ever in 2020.
Occupation, industry numbers
The pandemic also impacted the BLS numbers by occupation, with 10 occupations accounting for 38.3% of all private industry cases.
Out of those occupations, cases for nursing assistants had the highest number of days away from work with 96,480, an increase of 68,890 or 249.7%.
Registered nurses saw an increase of 58,590 days away from work, or 290.8%, to 78,740 cases.
Heavy and tractor-trailer truck drivers had a 9.4% decrease to 43,500 cases in 2020, while days away from work cases for laborers and material handlers remained unchanged compared to 2019’s numbers.
As for industry, it should come as no shock that nursing and residential care facilities, hospitals and ambulatory healthcare services saw major increases as well with:
- nursing and residential care at 791.7 cases per 10,000 full-time equivalent (FTE) workers in 2020 compared to 170.9 in 2019
- hospitals at 371.7 cases per 10,000 FTE workers, up from 129.7, and
- ambulatory health care with 121.4, up from 2019’s 53.5.