University of Wisconsin–Madison Medical College of Wisconsin

Incidence of COVID-19 and Worker’s Compensation Utilization Among Food Manufacturing in Wisconsin, October 1, 2020 – December 31, 2021

Komi K.S. Modji, MD, MPH; Katherine E. McCoy, PhD; Paul D. Creswell, PhD; Jonathan G. Meiman, MD

WMJ. 2023;122(5):390-393

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Background: The food manufacturing industry is a critical economic sector and has been a high-risk industry for COVID-19. This analysis aimed to describe COVID-19 cumulative case incidence rates among Wisconsin food manufacturing workers and their worker’s compensation utilization.

Methods: This was a descriptive analysis of COVID-19 cases among food manufacturing industry workers in Wisconsin from October 1, 2020, through December 31, 2021.

Results: Occupations with the highest cumulative case incidence rate (per 1000 workers) were Packers and Packagers, Hand (275; 95% CI, 252–300), Packaging and Filling Machine Operators and Tenders (266; 95% CI, 254–277), and Laborers and Freight, Stock and Material Movers, Hand (261; 95% CI, 247–276). Two worker’s compensation claims were paid to food manufacturing workers.

Discussion: Wisconsin food manufacturing workers were disproportionately affected by COVID-19, with a high cumulative case incidence rate exceeding that of the manufacturing industry overall, statewide non-institutionalized working-age adults, and the ambulatory health care industry. There was also a disproportionately low use of worker’s compensation benefits in Wisconsin compared to the high COVID-19 disease incidence. Improved worker protections for occupational infectious diseases with high risk of transmission are needed as well as improvements to the worker’s compensation system.

Author Affiliations: Wisconsin Department of Health Services and University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health, Madison, Wisconsin (Modji, McCoy, Creswell, Meiman)
Corresponding Author: Komi K.S. Modji, MD, 1 W Wilson St, Madison, WI 53703; email; ORCID ID 0000-0001-8156-6767
Acknowledgment: The authors acknowledge Tracy Aiello, Bureau of Claims Management Director at the Department of Workforce Development, for his contribution in the acquisition and understanding of the worker’s compensation data.
Funding/Support: Funding for this study was provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Grant numbers NU50CK000534-03-00 and 5U60OH010898-07
Financial Disclosures: None declared.
Ethics Approval: The University of Wisconsin Institutional Review Board (UW-IRB) provided written approval for the Wisconsin Fundamental-Plus Occupational Health Surveillance Program (Submission ID number: 2013-0331-CR010) under which this study was performed. The UW-IRB determined that this study met the requirements of public health surveillance as defined in the US Department of Health and Human Services regulations for the protection of human subjects (45 CFR 46.102(l)(2)). This analysis did not require the informed consent of cases as these were administrative data reported to statewide public health surveillance databases.
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