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Despite Covid: Accident risk at work on the rise

Despite Covid: Accident risk at work on the rise

Every year, thousands of occupational and commuting accidents are reported to the statutory accident insurers. Looking at the statistics for the past two years, it is clear that the covid pandemic has had a significant impact on the development of the number of cases. For example, the number of registered occupational accidents in the pandemic years 2020 and 2021 remained significantly below the level of previous years. Accordingly, in 2021, the commercial and public sector accident insurers registered more than 806,000 reportable occupational accidents that either caused incapacity for work of more than three days or even the death of the injured person. This means that the number of cases is around 6% higher than in 2020. The situation is different for the number of serious occupational accidents in which either a pension or death benefit was paid: Although the number of fatal accidents increased. However, with a total of around 12,000 serious occupational accidents in 2021, the number of statistics is around 7.6% below those of the previous year.

Accident risk increases: administration particularly affected - also in terms of the number of fatal accidents

The bottom line is that the risk of accidents in 2021 has tended to increase. According to the statistics, just under 23 of every 1,000 full-time employees suffer a reportable accident at work. There has been a particularly sharp increase in the number of recognized occupational illnesses - hardly surprising, given the impact of the pandemic. A comparison of sectors also shows clear differences. For example, most occupational accidents occurred in companies in the woodworking and metalworking industries: An impressive 133,000 such accidents were reported to the employers' liability insurance association. By contrast, the largest year-on-year increase was recorded by the Verwaltungs-Berufsgenossenschaft (VBG), which includes not only the financial sector but also, among others, the media and advertising, information and communications, and research and education sectors. This is also where by far the most fatal occupational accidents were reported: At 148, the number of cases was almost 56% higher than in the previous year.

Statistics underscore the importance of occupational health and safety

But beware: Basically, occupational accident statistics must be read and understood with foresight. For example, not only the general conditions influenced by the Corona pandemic, but also numerous changes in legislation make the statistical surveys of previous years difficult to compare. It must also be taken into account that many accidents are not reported at all and that near-accidents escape statistical recording. Nevertheless, the statistics impressively underscore the outstanding importance of occupational safety. Although it remains to be seen how developments, particularly the further shift to home offices, will affect the accident statistics in the medium term, company managers should not stand idly by. After all, the legal requirements for protecting the lives and health of employees do not only extend to the direct operational environment. In addition to a comprehensive risk analysis, which also takes into account changes in the general conditions, and the planning and implementation of suitable organizational and technical protective measures, it is above all the sensitization and training of employees that is crucial. This is the only way to make the working environment - whether in the company or in the home office - as safe as possible and to actively minimize the risk of accidents in the workplace.

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