As of April, nearly 400 deaths and 31,000 infections have been linked to people who have contracted the coronavirus at work, official figures show.
According to UK Health and Safety Executive figures published by the GMB union, 367 Covid deaths were reported to have ‘reasonable evidence’ that the person contracted the virus at work.
Between April 10, 2020 and March 13, 2021, 31,380 infections were also associated with appearing in a store, office, factory, warehouse or construction site, it added.
Unions warned that the numbers were a “significant underestimate” of the true toll on the workforce, saying that no one should be forced to go to work fearing they might contract the virus.
Doctors, nurses and other health workers accounted for nearly 70 percent of work-related Covid deaths (256 deaths), followed by ‘personal service workers’ such as hairdressers, plumbers and cleaners (46) and factory workers (19).
At the start of the pandemic, Britons were ordered to work from home whenever possible, with millions earmarked for the £ 41 billion leave scheme as cafes, restaurants and shops had to close.
But many, including police officers, bus drivers, delivery personnel, shop assistants and health workers, have worked continuously during the first and second waves.
Previous data from the Office for National statistics showed that transport workers and carers were among the professions with the highest number of Covid deaths.
According to the official toll, more than 126,670 Britons have died from the virus and 4.3 million infections have been reported since the start of the pandemic.
The UK workplace regulator, the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), said it had received reports that there was ‘reasonable evidence’ that 367 Covid deaths were due to going to work. It found that nearly 70 percent of these were related to health care workers, followed by personal caregivers, including hairdressers, plumbers, and cleaners
The numbers also showed that the reported number varied over time in accordance with the first and second waves of the pandemic
The role of the HSE as a regulator is to ensure that employers follow health and safety guidelines to prevent death, injury or ill health.
Employers are required to report every time an employee dies from Covid-19 to the HSE or the council and there is ‘reasonable evidence’ that they contracted the virus at work.
But the regulator notes that its data suffers from “widespread under-reporting,” which could provide a “biased picture” of the distribution and magnitude of cases and deaths among the workforce.
WHAT PROFESSIONS HAVE MOST COVID DEAD DONE?
Source: Health and Safety Executive reports from April 10 last year to March 13.
When broken down by time, the numbers showed that deaths and fatalities fluctuated with the first and second waves of the country.
The highest number of fatalities was reported in the week to May 2, 2020, at the end of the first wave, when 23 Covid deaths were linked to workplace exposure.
The second highest was in the seven-day period to Feb. 6, 2021, after the second wave, when 22 Covid deaths were reported by employers.
In comparison, the Department of Health recorded 494 Covid deaths on May 2 and 699 on Feb. 6 alone.
Most deaths have occurred in nursing homes and the elderly, who are most at risk of hospitalization or death if they contract the virus and who are generally retired.
GMB union national secretary Rehana Azam said the numbers revealed a “ devastating reality ” that too many workplaces were still not safe.
“No one should go to work for fear of their life,” she said.
“The death of every employee was preventable and the devastating reality is that too many workplaces are still not safe.
The fact that 70 percent of reported deaths are among health and care workers should be a wake-up call, and unfortunately, these numbers are probably just the tip of the iceberg.
Too many people across the country are still dealing with precarious workplaces and insufficient personal protective equipment.
These numbers shed new light on the abominable failure of too many to keep workplaces safe.
“Seven out of ten reported infections were since the start of the second wave, when it was well understood what steps were needed to limit the spread of the virus.”
The GMB Union obtained the figures after filing a Freedom of Information request with the HSE.