Plant workers, security guards and chefs among highest Covid-19 death rates


Men working as security guards, chefs and taxi drivers had some of the highest Covid-19 death rates in 2020, new figures show.

Plant workers recorded a rate of 143.2 deaths per 100,000 males, compared with a rate of 31.4 among men of the same age in the wider population.

For security guards and related occupations the figure stood at 100.7 deaths per 100,000 males.

Among female workers, some of the highest Covid-19 deaths were for jobs involving assembly lines and routine machine operations, such as sewing machinists, as well as care workers and home carers.

The figures have been published by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) and cover deaths registered in England and Wales between March 9 and December 28 2020.

Ben Humberstone, ONS head of health analysis and life events, said: "Jobs with regular exposure to Covid-19 and those working in close proximity to others continue to have higher Covid-19 death rates when compared with the rest of the working age population.

"Men continue to have higher rates of death than women, making up nearly two-thirds of these deaths."

The figures do not prove that rates of death are caused directly by differences in employment, however.

"There are a complex combination of factors that influence the risk of death, from your age and your ethnicity, where you live and who you live with, to pre-existing health conditions," Mr Humberstone added. "Our findings do not prove that the rates of death involving Covid-19 are caused by differences in occupational exposure."

Of all the male deaths involving Covid-19 registered in England up to December 28 2020 where an occupation was listed, the ONS found that 120 deaths were of people who worked in process plants (a rate of 143.2 deaths per 100,000 males), while 140 deaths were among security guards and related occupations (100.7).

Both of these rates were more than three times the rate for deaths involving Covid-19 among all men aged 20 to 64 (31.4).

Other occupations with high rates of death for males included:

– Restaurant and catering establishment managers and proprietors (119.3 deaths per 100,000 males; 26 deaths)

– Chefs (103.1 deaths per 100,000 males; 82 deaths)

– Taxi and cab drivers and chauffeurs (101.4 deaths per 100,000 males; 209 deaths)

– Bus and coach drivers (70.3 deaths per 100,000 males; 83 deaths)

Among women, plant and machine operatives accounted for 57 deaths (33.7 deaths per 100,000 females).

Of these, assemblers and routine operatives – such as sewing machinists – accounted for 21 deaths (39.2)

By comparison, the rate for deaths involving Covid-19 among all women aged 20 to 64 was 16.8.

Other occupations with high rates of death for females included:

– Sales and retail assistants (26.9 deaths per 100,000 females; 111 deaths)

– Social workers (32.4 deaths per 100,000 females; 25 deaths)

– Managers and directors in retail and wholesale (26.7 deaths per 100,000 females, 24 deaths)

Rates of death involving Covid-19 among male and female social care workers in 2020 were "statistically significantly higher" than those for the wider working population, the ONS said.

A total of 469 Covid-19 deaths among social care workers were registered in England and Wales, with rates of 79.0 deaths per 100,000 males and 35.9 deaths per 100,000 females.

Among healthcare workers – including doctors, nurses, ambulance staff and hospital porters – men had a statistically significant higher rate of death involving Covid-19 (44.9 deaths per 100,000 males), while for women the rate was not significantly different (17.3 deaths per 100,000).