“The occupational injury figures continue to reflect the effects of the pandemic”, says Dr Stefan Hussy, Director General of DGUV, the German social accident insurance. The number of recognized cases of occupational diseases in 2021, at 123,228, was more than three times higher than in 2020.
Of the 226,611 suspected occupational disease (OD) reports, 150,000 cases were related to the coronavirus. The number of deaths due to an OD was 2,172, 208 fewer than in 2020. With a total of 804,774, the number of accidents at work increased by 5.8% compared to 2020, but remains lower than in 2019. Commuting accidents – 170,193 – are up by 11.4%. The increase of fatal accidents (+113), for a total of 512 cases, is particularly high. It is mainly due to patients hospitalized in rehabilitation and dying from Covid-19; indeed, in some circumstances, Covid-19 can be recognized as an accident at work.
Concerning pensions, in 2021, accidents at work resulted in 11,981 new cases, 9.4% less than in 2020. This evolution, a priori contradictory with the increase in the number of cases, is explained by the time that often elapses between the accident and the determination of a pension. Thus, less than 10% of the new pensions granted in 2020 correspond to an accident that occurred in the same year. For occupational diseases, as Covid-19 does not usually lead to permanent disability, the number of new pensions has not increased to the same extent as the number of cases.
In 2021, after a strong decrease in 2020, the number of school accidents – 639,418 – recorded a further decrease of 7.5%. In 2019, it was 1.18 million. The number of accidents on the way to school (61,085 cases) fell by 14.9%. Any insured person who seeks medical attention if they are injured in an activity related to attending school or in a commuting accident or if they die has a reporting obligation.
Dr Hussy reiterated that DGUV will continue to provide the best possible support to Covid-19 victims employees, particularly in the health and care sector. “This also includes our rehabilitation offers for long term Covids”.