New research reveals that workers in protective services occupations had the highest rate of death from COVID-19 during the pandemic, with 60 deaths per 100,000 workers.
For industry, the highest rate of COVID-19 deaths occurred in accommodation and food services with 55 deaths per 100,000 workers, according to the study, which was conducted by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH).
The death rate in all workers combined was 28 per 100,000 workers.
Community and social services occupations saw the highest proportion of deaths from COVID-19, which was 59% higher than COVID-19 deaths among all workers. Several occupations and industry groups – including protective services (43% higher) and farming, fishing and forestry (33% higher) – also saw elevated proportions when compared to all workers.
Death records from 46 states, New York City examined
Researchers used death records from the 2020 National Vital Statistics Systems to estimate COVID-19 death rates per 100,000 workers by occupation and industry among workers 16 to 64 years old in 46 states and New York City. They also estimated the proportion of deaths caused by COVID-19 within an industry or occupation compared with the proportion of deaths from COVID-19 among all workers 15 to 64 years old.
This research is meant to help pinpoint patterns of COVID-19 in the workforce to be prepared for future surges and other infectious diseases.
Different working conditions may affect exposure
More research is needed to determine how different working conditions affect a worker’s exposure to COVID-19.
Protective measures such as mask-wearing and physical distancing, for example, may be more difficult to use for workers in certain environments and industries than in others.