By Steven Reinberg
MONDAY, Nov. 2, 2020 (HealthDay News) — Construction workers have a higher risk of being hospitalized with COVID-19 than other workers, a new study finds.
Using data collected between March and August on hospitalizations in Austin, Texas, researchers found that construction workers were five times more likely than people in other occupations to be hospitalized with COVID-19.
Their greater vulnerability is probably because construction work continued throughout the pandemic, even during stay-at-home orders and other community-wide public health measures, the study authors suggested.
And the nature of the work is riskier because of the close contact with others, the researchers said.
“It doesn’t necessarily mean we need to stop construction work,” said Lauren Ancel Meyers, director of the COVID-19 Modeling Consortium at the University of Texas at Austin. “It means we need to go to great lengths to ensure the health and safety of workers when they do go to work.”
Encouraging basic safety precautions at worksites such as wearing masks and physical distancing would help, as would giving workers paid sick leave and other incentives to stay home when they have been exposed or have mild symptoms, to help reduce risk, the researchers said in a university news release.
Regular COVID-19 testing at work with contact tracing and isolation of detected cases would also help curb the spread, the study authors added.
The findings were published online Oct. 29 in JAMA Network Open.
For more on COVID-19, head to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
SOURCE: University of Texas at Austin, news release, Oct. 29, 2020