Recognition of COVID-19 with occupational origin: a comparison between European countries

Occup Environ Med. 2023 Nov 23;80(12):694-701. doi: 10.1136/oemed-2022-108726.


Objectives: This study aims to present an overview of the formal recognition of COVID-19 as occupational disease (OD) or injury (OI) across Europe.

Methods: A COVID-19 questionnaire was designed by a task group within COST-funded OMEGA-NET and sent to occupational health experts of 37 countries in WHO European region, with a last update in April 2022.

Results: The questionnaire was filled out by experts from 35 countries. There are large differences between national systems regarding the recognition of OD and OI: 40% of countries have a list system, 57% a mixed system and one country an open system. In most countries, COVID-19 can be recognised as an OD (57%). In four countries, COVID-19 can be recognised as OI (11%) and in seven countries as either OD or OI (20%). In two countries, there is no recognition possible to date. Thirty-two countries (91%) recognise COVID-19 as OD/OI among healthcare workers. Working in certain jobs is considered proof of occupational exposure in 25 countries, contact with a colleague with confirmed infection in 19 countries, and contact with clients with confirmed infection in 21 countries. In most countries (57%), a positive PCR test is considered proof of disease. The three most common compensation benefits for COVID-19 as OI/OD are disability pension, treatment and rehabilitation. Long COVID is included in 26 countries.

Conclusions: COVID-19 can be recognised as OD or OI in 94% of the European countries completing this survey, across different social security and embedded occupational health systems.

Keywords: COVID-19.

MeSH terms

  • COVID-19* / epidemiology
  • Europe / epidemiology
  • Humans
  • Occupational Diseases* / epidemiology
  • Occupational Diseases* / therapy
  • Occupational Exposure* / adverse effects
  • Occupations
  • Post-Acute COVID-19 Syndrome