Impact of COVID-19 on Occupational Injury Among Long-term Care Workers in California: Analysis of Workers’ Compensation Data, 2019 and 2020

The COVID-19 pandemic dramatically increased the need for health care services, and health care workers working on the frontlines are among the most affected occupational groups. Particularly, long-term care facilities — which are the industry with the highest occupational injury and illness rate in the US — have been shown to be more vulnerable to COVID-19 infections. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) surveillance data, as of July 4, 2021, in nursing homes in the US, there were 658,169 COVID-19 cases and 133,414 deaths among residents and 588,199 COVID-19 cases and 1,967 deaths among staff. On top of the infection risk, health care workers have been affected physically and psychologically by increased workload and stress during the COVID-19 pandemic. Such increased physical and psychological demands may increase the risk of injury at work.

While considerable research has addressed significant negative impacts of the pandemic on psychosocial and mental health among health care workers, research has been limited on how the pandemic affected the risk of occupational injury. To address the gap, this study will assess the impact of COVID-19 on occupational injury or illness incidence among workers in long-term care settings. In September 2020, the California legislature passed a law, SB1159, that amended the Workers Compensation (WC) program to allow for contracting COVID-19 associated with work as an injury covered by the WC program.


Key Questions

  • What are the number and rate of WC claims among California long-term care workers by month and how do these change over time during 2019-2020, including after passage of SB1159?
  • What are the defining characteristics of WC claims during 2019-2020 among California long-term care workers? Consider demographic (age, gender), occupational (occupation, job tenure), and injury or illness characteristics (cause of injury, nature of injury, affected body part). Which characteristics demonstrated greater changes during COVID-19?


For more information, contact Soo-Jeong Lee.



Lee, S-J, Yun, Y, Hwang, J, Jong, S. Impact of COVID-19 on occupational injuries and illnesses among nursing care facility workers: Analysis of California workers' compensation data, 2019–2021. Am J Ind Med. 2023; 1-12. doi:10.1002/ajim.23531

The coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID‐19) pandemic greatly affected healthcare workers, both physically and psychologically, by increasing their workload and stress. This may also have increased their risk of occupational injuries. This study analyzed workers' compensation (WC) claims among California nursing care facility workers during 2019–2021, to assess the impact of the pandemic on occupational injury risk.