Men working in the lowest-skilled jobs face the highest risk of dying from the coronavirus

Men working in the lowest-skilled jobs such as cleaners, security guards and drivers face the highest risk of dying from the coronavirus

  • Security guard deaths are twice as high as average for ‘low-skilled’ male workers
  • Twice as many working age men (20-64) have died than women of the same age
  • Taxi, bus and coach drivers are at a high risk, as well as chefs and shop assistants
  • Carers of both sexes are also at ‘significantly’ higher risk of dying of COVID-19
  • But doctors and nurses are not more likely to die than general public 
  • Here’s how to help people impacted by Covid-19

Working men are significantly more likely to die of COVID-19 than women of the same age, according to statistics.

Those who work as security guards have one of the highest risks of death if they catch the coronavirus, along with social care workers, drivers and chefs. 

The Office for National Statistics today published data showing that Britons working in ‘low-skilled’, low-paid jobs are the ones most likely to die of coronavirus.

Those workers are also likely to have been working throughout the crisis or to be the first back to work as Britain gets back to its feet this week.

A total of 2,494 people of working age – between 20 and 64 – had died with COVID-19 in England and Wales by April 20. This was 9.7 per cent of the nationwide death toll of 25,770 at the time.

While people below retirement age are significantly less likely to die if they catch the pneumonia-causing disease, all are not equal.

The ONS found that people working in what it calls ‘elementary’ jobs, such as cleaners and construction workers, had the highest risk of death.

Men working as security guards had one of the highest death rates, at 45.7 deaths per 100,000 – this was more than double the average rate for ‘low-skilled’ male workers (21.4 per 100,000).

Both men and women working as carers had a ‘significantly’ higher than average risk of dying from the disease, even though doctors and nurses did not.

And jobs in which people were put at particularly high risk included taxi drivers, chaffeurs, bus and coach drivers, chefs, and shop assistants.

Data released by the Office for National Statistics shows that, generally, the risk of dying of the coronavirus increases as jobs become lower paid

Professor Neil Pearce, Professor of Epidemiology and Biostatistics at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, said: ‘This important report confirms that in the working age population COVID-19 is largely an occupational disease.’

While a lot of emphasis has been put on medical workers and carers being put at risk, Professor Pearce said this showed other occupations were dangerous, too.

Regular close contact with other people, such as in cars or in the hospitality sectors where they work, was likely increasing their risk of becoming seriously ill, he said.

‘The findings are striking,’ Professor Pearce added, ‘and emphasise that we need to look beyond health and social care, and that there is a broad range of occupations which may be at risk from COVID-19. 

‘These are many of the same occupations that are now being urged to return to work, in some instances without proper safety measures and PPE being in place.’

The ONS said its data was not perfect and couldn’t be used as proof because it didn’t take into account people’s lives outside of their jobs.

It said: ‘The results of the analysis do not prove conclusively that the observed rates of death involving COVID-19 are necessarily caused by differences in occupational exposure. 

‘In the analysis we adjusted for age, but not for other factors such as ethnic group, place of residence or deprivation. 

‘Additionally, the analysis only considers the occupation of the deceased. We have not taken account of the occupations of others in the household, which could increase exposure to other members of the same household.’ 


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