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Injuries, Illnesses, and Fatalities

How COVID-19 is reflected in the SOII data

In November 2021, the Survey of Occupational Injuries and Illnesses (SOII) reported that the rate of illness cases increased from 12.4 cases per 10,000 full-time equivalent workers (FTEs) in 2019 to 55.9 cases in 2020. This was driven by the respiratory illness case rate, which rose from 1.1 cases per 10,000 FTEs in 2019 to 44.0 cases in 2020. These data reflect the impact of COVID-19 related illnesses captured in the SOII.

The SOII relies on Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) recordkeeping requirements, which mandate employers record certain work-related injuries and illnesses. COVID-19 is considered a respiratory illness under criteria established by OSHA. The illness is recordable if a worker is infected while performing work-related duties. Once collected for the SOII, cases requiring at least one day away from work are coded using the Occupational Injury and Illness Classification System (OIICS).

Respiratory Illnesses

There are two ways to see the impact of COVID-19 in the SOII data. The first is as respiratory illnesses for all reported cases. Respiratory illnesses, a subset of all illnesses, are recorded at detailed industry levels, based on the North American Industry Classification System (NAICS). Some of these results are highlighted in the SOII news release, "Employer-reported Workplace Injuries and Illnesses - 2020".

Detailed Case Information

The second way to see the impact is through detailed case information for incidences requiring at least one day away from work. While the current version of OIICS does not have a unique code for COVID-19, these cases were classified using the following OIICS codes:

  • Nature code 3299: Other diseases due to viruses, not elsewhere classified (n.e.c.)
  • Part code 6: Body systems
  • Event code 550: Exposure to other harmful substance, unspecified
  • Source code 533: Viruses

For reference year 2020, COVID-19 cases in the SOII are most evident in Other diseases due to viruses, not elsewhere classified n.e.c. (Nature code 3299). Estimates for this code are suppressed for most years due to low case counts that did not meet publication criteria. Therefore, calendar year 2020 estimates for Nature code 3299 directly reflect employer-reported COVID-19 cases that resulted in a day away from work. Other OIICS Nature categories include sprains, strains, tears; soreness, pain; fractures; cuts, lacerations, punctures; and bruises, contusions. A forthcoming revision of the OIICS will include a Nature code specifically for coronaviruses.

In 2020, employers reported an estimated 390,020 cases classified in Nature code 3299. Estimates for this category were last published for 2015, when 20 cases were reported. Data did not meet publication standards for 2019.

Detailed Case Information by Industry

Private industry healthcare and social assistance establishments reported 288,890 cases due to COVID-19 in 2020. The illness rate for Nature code 3299 was 196.3 cases per 10,000 FTEs and among all respiratory illness within the healthcare and social assistance industry was 209.8 in 2020. Not all respiratory cases required a day away from work and some may be classified as cases that required job transfer or restriction.

Median days away from work is an indicator of the severity of injuries and illnesses. In 2020, the median days away from work was 12 for cases coded by nature of condition in all private sector industries. It was 13 for all cases coded as Nature code 3299. Manufacturing, accommodation and food services, professional and technical services, and transportation and warehousing, each had 14 median days away from work for this nature category.

Table 1. Days away from work cases due to Other diseases due to viruses, not elsewhere classified (Nature code 3299), for selected private industries, 2020
Private IndustryNumberRateMedian Days

All private industries


Health care and social assistance




Retail trade


Accommodation and food services


Wholesale trade


Administrative and waste services




Professional and technical services


Transportation and warehousing


Detailed Case Information by Occupation

Within private industry, service occupations experienced 144,940 cases caused by Nature code 3299 in 2020. The rate of injuries and illnesses in this category for service occupations was 87.2 per 10,000 FTEs. Healthcare practitioners and technical occupations had 120,720 (31.0 percent) of cases reported in Nature code 3299. The rate of injuries and illnesses experienced by Healthcare practitioners and technical occupations from Nature code 3299 was 204.2 cases per 10,000 FTEs.

Table 2. Days away from work cases due to Other diseases due to viruses, not elsewhere classified (Nature code 3299), for private industry occupation groups, 2020
OccupationAll natures of injury or illnessNature code 3299

All private sector occupations


Management, business, financial


Computer, engineering, and science


Educational instruction and library occupations


Healthcare practitioners and technical




Sales and related


Office and administrative support


Farming, fishing, and forestry


Construction and extraction


Installation, maintenance, and repair




Transportation and material moving


For more tables reflecting COVID-19 in the workplace see, Nonfatal illnesses due to novel viruses by industry and Nonfatal illnesses due to novel viruses by occupation.

Data presented in this factsheet and more can be generated by selecting Case and Demographics rates and numbers in the Profiles Data Tool. You can also obtain these data using Create Customized Tables (Multiple Screens) and Create Customized Tables (Single Screen). Additional tables and charts are available on the IIF homepage.


Last Modified Date: March 18, 2022