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The Second-Deadliest Workplace in America Might Surprise You

April 21, 2021By Niko Pothitakis

According to a recent Scientific American study, nursing homes were the second-deadliest workplace throughout the pandemic in 2020. However, the data collected was limited and certain elements may make it the deadliest place to work in the U.S.

What Makes Nursing Homes Dangerous

The Scientific American study published in February found that nursing homes in the U.S. had logged 80 deaths per 100,000 full-time employees in 2020. The only industry to have a higher rate was the fishing industry in 2019, with 145 deaths for every 100,000 that year. The numbers put nursing home staff in a position that’s more dangerous than that of loggers, pilots, and roofers.

Although it would appear that nursing homes are the second-deadliest workplace, the Scientific American study suffered from insufficient data, much like many other studies attempting to calculate the impact of COVID-19 on workplace illnesses in nursing homes. Part of the reason for this is that national COVID reporting was only made mandatory by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) as of May, which led to the omission of a lot of data around the initial effects of the outbreak at the start of 2020. Based on that missing data, there’s speculation that nursing homes may have actually been deadlier in 2020 than the fishing industry.

How Vaccination Issues May Factor into a Deadly Workplace

In addition to the findings in the Scientific American study, another potential factor contributing to a dangerous workplace in nursing homes is staff’s hesitation when it comes to the COVID-19 vaccine. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), around 37.5% of nursing home staff received the vaccine in the first month of the vaccine’s circulation. One of the key reasons for this reluctance was a general lack of trust among workers who have struggled during a taxing year.

The first month also saw many nursing home staffers expressing skepticism regarding the safety of the vaccine. Experts found that nursing staff were distrusting of the vaccine in its early days and worried that they were essentially serving as guinea pigs in its initial distribution. There is scant data available at this time to determine precisely how the delay in vaccination among nursing home workers could have made these workplaces even deadlier.

According to the data currently out there, nursing homes are officially the second-deadliest workplace. However, certain other contributing factors may place them in the number-one spot.