Construction workers have a much higher risk of becoming hospitalized with Covid-19 than workers in other occupations, according to a new study from researchers with the University of Texas. Analyzing data from mid-March to mid-August on hospitalizations in Austin, Texas, the researchers found that construction worker risk was five times higher.
The current study is the first to compare Covid-19 hospitalizations of construction workers to non-construction workers, according to UT News. According to researchers, the higher vulnerability for construction workers likely stems from the continuation of construction work throughout the pandemic, even during stay-at-home orders. The nature of the work also exacerbated risks, such as close contact with others.
“It doesn’t necessarily mean we need to stop construction work,” Lauren Ancel Meyers, a professor at the university, told UT News. “It means we need to go to great lengths to ensure the health and safety of workers when they do go to work.”
Earlier in the year, experts projected that construction workers would have 4 to 5 times higher rate of hospitalization than non-construction workers.
Encouraging basic precautions such as mask wearing and physical distancing on the work site would help, according to the article, as would having governments or employers offer workers paid sick leave and other incentives to stay home. In addition, regular Covid testing can help prevent spread.