U.K. Construction Workers Among Most Vulnerable to Virus
Low-skilled construction workers in the U.K., urged back to work by Prime Minister Boris Johnson, have one of the highest rates of death from the virus.
Research from the Office for National Statistics found that nearly two-thirds of the 2,500 fatalities analyzed were men, with security guards, taxi drivers and chauffeurs, bus drivers and chefs joining builders among those most at risk.
The figures will likely add to growing demands for the government to ensure that people are adequately protected. Before the first steps to ease the lockdown in the U.K. were announced on Sunday, the four largest labor unions called on the government to make sure people can return to work safely.
Johnson said that people who cannot work at home -- such as those in manufacturing and construction -- should get back on the job.
“There is a broad range of occupations which may be at risk from Covid-19,” said Neil Pearce, professor of epidemiology and biostatistics and the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. “These are many of the same occupations that are now being urged to return to work, in some instances without proper safety measures.”
The ONS report on Monday also published analysis on exposure to Covid-19 by job, showing that nurses and ambulance are some of the most vulnerable.
Nevertheless, healthcare workers including doctors and nurses were not found to have higher rates of death involving the virus compared to those in the general population, the ONS said. By contrast, men and women working in social care both had significantly higher rates of death involving the virus.
“These figures are horrifying,” said John Phillips, Acting GMB General Secretary. “Ministers must pause any return to work until proper guidelines, advice and enforcement are in place to keep people safe.”
©2020 Bloomberg L.P.