Men working in factories or as security guards were being killed by coronavirus at more than twice the rate of healthcare staff during the height of the crisis in Britain, shock official data shows.
Factory staff died at a rate of 73 per 100,000 men between March 9 – almost a fortnight before lockdown – and May 25, followed by men working as bouncers or security (72 per 100,000).
Office for National Statistics figures released today show that male nurses and doctors – who were treating the sickest Covid-19 patients, many without proper protective gear – died at a rate of 30 per 100,000 men.
The ONS says its data does not prove these jobs are more dangerous than working in health and social care because the report did not look at what ethnicity the victims were, or if they came from a deprived area.
The death rate for factory and security workers will also be skewed upwards due to the fact there are many more healthcare workers than there are factory and security staff.
But factory workers have been working throughout the crisis to keep the nation fed during lockdown, and are among the most likely to have been interacting with others when the disease was spreading at its fastest.
Security guards had to be deployed to supermarkets at the very beginning of the outbreak to make sure social distancing was adhered to inside shops and in outdoor queues.
Data shows the disease is also killing male taxi drivers (65), chefs (56.8), busmen (44.2) and shop assistants (34.2) at a higher rate than normal (19.1).
These workers have also been working throughout the epidemic or were among the first to be sent back to work when lockdown was loosened in May.
They were at a significantly higher risk than men in ‘professional’ occupations, who had the lowest death rate, at 11.1 per 100,000. This is largely thought to be because they continue to work home and avoid contact with others.
Men working in so-called ‘elementary occupations’ were the worst-hit group during the height of the coronavirus outbreak in Britain. These workers are mostly in public-facing jobs and are least likely to have been able to work from home. Whereas men in ‘professional’ occupations had the lowest death rate, argely thought to be because they continue to work home and avoid contact with others
Among these workers, those in factories were the worst hit, suffering 73.3 deaths per 100,000 men, followed by security workers (72)
Ben Humberstone, head of health analysis and life events at ONS, said the analysis does not prove conclusively that different jobs carry higher risks of catching and dying from coronavirus.
The report adjusted for age, but not for other factors such as ethnic group and place of residence. It also did not factor in the job of other family members in the household, which could increase exposure to members of the same home.
Mr Humberstone added: ‘There are lots of complex things playing out during the pandemic and the risk of death involving COVID-19 is influenced by a range of factors including the job someone does, but also age, ethnicity and underlying health conditions.
‘We also know that people living in the most deprived local areas, and those living in urban areas such as London, have been found to have the highest rates of death involving COVID-19.
‘Today’s analysis shows that jobs involving close proximity with others, and those where there is regular exposure to disease, have some of the highest rates of death from COVID-19.
‘However, our findings do not prove conclusively that the observed rates of death involving COVID-19 are necessarily caused by differences in occupational exposure.’
The ONS highlighted 17 jobs that drove up the chance of dying from coronavirus in males and found 11 of them have statistically higher proportions of workers from Black, Asian and ethnic minority (BAME) backgrounds.
For women, four specific occupations had raised rates of death, including Government admin workers, at 23.4 deaths per 100,000, care home workers (19.1), sales assistants (15.7) and healthcare staff (15.3).