Over 6,000 involved in workmen’s accidents related to coronavirus in Japan last year

Yomiuri Shimbun file photo
Nurses treat a critically ill patient with the novel coronavirus in the intensive care unit of a hospital in Chiba Prefecture.

A total of 6,041 people died or lost four or more days of work last year as a result of work-related accidents caused by infection with the novel coronavirus, according to a report by the Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry.

More than 70% of this number were medical and welfare workers at hospitals or elderly care facilities, where infection clusters outbreaks occurred one after another nationwide.

This figure represents all cases reported to the labor standards bureau in each region as work-related accidents, including infection with the novel coronavirus through contact with patients in the workplace.

By industry, the medical and health industry, including hospitals, accounted for the largest number of cases at 2,961, or 49%, followed by social welfare facilities, including special nursing homes for the elderly, with 1,600 cases (26%).

Together, these two industries accounted for 75% of the total.

Another 345, or 6%, were from the manufacturing industry, and 187, or 3%, were from the construction industry. The restaurant industry, members of which have been asked to shorten their business hours in some areas, accounted for 79, or 1%.

The ministry is calling for thorough infection prevention measures. “It has come to light once again that healthcare workers and nursing staff, who often come into contact with patients or the elderly through treatment or nursing care, are at high risk of infection via their work,” a spokesperson said.

According to the ministry, the total number of deaths, as well as injuries due to work-related accidents that required someone to be absent from work for four days or more, increased by 4.4% in 2020 from the previous year to 131,156.

If novel coronavirus-related cases, which accounted for 4.6% of the total, are excluded from the calculation, the total number of fatalities and injuries was down 0.4% from the previous year.

The ministry has not disclosed the number of work-related deaths in connection with the novel coronavirus.