Provisional analysis of deaths involving the coronavirus (COVID-19), by different occupational groups, among men and women aged 20 to 64 years in England and Wales.

Main points

  • 7,961 deaths involving the coronavirus (COVID-19) in the working age population (those aged 20 to 64 years) of England and Wales were registered between 9 March and 28 December 2020.
  • Nearly two-thirds of these deaths were among men (5,128 deaths), with the age-standardised mortality rate of death involving COVID-19 being statistically significantly higher in men, at 31.4 deaths per 100,000 men aged 20 to 64 years compared with 16.8 deaths per 100,000 women (2,833 deaths).
  • When looking at broad groups of occupations, men who worked in elementary occupations (699 deaths) or caring, leisure and other service occupations (258 deaths) had the highest rates of death involving COVID-19, with 66.3 and 64.1 deaths per 100,000 males, respectively.
  • In women, process, plant and machine operatives (57 deaths) and caring, leisure and other service occupations (460 deaths) had the highest rates of death involving COVID-19 when looking at broad occupational groups, with 33.7 and 27.3 deaths per 100,000 females, respectively.
  • Men (79.0 deaths per 100,000 males; 150 deaths) and women (35.9 deaths per 100,000 females; 319 deaths) who worked in social care occupations had statistically significantly higher rates of death involving COVID-19 when compared with rates of death involving COVID-19 in the population among those of the same age and sex.
  • Almost three in four of the deaths involving COVID-19 in social care occupations (347 out of 469 deaths; 74.0%) were in care workers and home carers, with 109.9 deaths per 100,000 males (107 deaths) and 47.1 deaths per 100,000 females (240 deaths).
  • Men who worked in healthcare occupations had a statistically higher rate of death involving COVID-19 (44.9 deaths per 100,000 males; 190 deaths) when compared with the rate of COVID-19 among men of the same age in the population; the rate among women who worked in healthcare occupations (17.3 deaths per 100,000 females; 224 deaths) was statistically similar to the rate in the population.
  • Looking at specific healthcare occupations, nurses had statistically significantly higher rates of death involving COVID-19 when compared with the rate of COVID-19 among those of the same age and sex in the population, with 79.1 deaths per 100,000 males (47 deaths) and 24.5 deaths per 100,000 females (110 deaths); nursing auxiliaries and assistants also had elevated rates of death involving COVID-19.
  • Rates of death involving COVID-19 in men and women who worked as teaching and educational professionals, such as secondary school teachers, were not statistically significantly raised when compared with the rates seen in the population among those of the same age and sex.¬†
  • This analysis does not prove conclusively that the observed rates of death involving COVID-19 are necessarily caused by differences in occupational exposure; we adjusted for age, but not other factors such as ethnic group and place of residence.

Figure 1: Men working in elementary occupations or caring, leisure and other service occupations had the highest rates of death involving COVID-19

Age-standardised mortality rates of death involving the coronavirus (COVID-19) in England and Wales, by major occupational group, deaths registered between 9 March and 28 December 2020

  1. Deaths involving the coronavirus (COVID-19) include those with an underlying cause, or any mention, of U07.1 (COVID-19, virus identified) or U07.2 (COVID-19, virus not identified).
  2. Figures are for residents of England and Wales aged 20 to 64 years.
  3. Occupations defined using the Standard Occupational Classification 2010 (SOC 2010).
  4. Figures are for the most recent death registrations available at the time of analysis: deaths involving COVID-19 registered between 9 March and 28 December 2020.
  5. Age-standardised rates are only presented for occupations with 20 or more deaths

Among elementary occupations – the major occupational group with the highest rate of death involving COVID-19 – those who worked in process plants had the highest rate of death involving COVID-19, with 143.2 deaths per 100,000 males (120 deaths). Elementary process plant workers clean metal goods, machinery and premises, operate printing machines and reprographic equipment, wrap, fill, label and seal containers and perform a variety of other manual tasks.

In the elementary occupations group, those who worked in elementary security occupations had the next highest rate of death involving COVID-19, with 93.4 deaths per 100,000 males (153 deaths). Most of these deaths were among security guards and related occupations (140 deaths; 100.7 deaths per 100,000 males).

For caring, leisure and other service occupations – the major occupational group with the next highest rate of death involving COVID-19 among men – most of this group’s 258 deaths were among those who worked in caring personal services (184 deaths or 71.3%; 91.0 deaths per 100,000 males). Of the caring personal services occupations, care workers and home carers had the highest rate of death involving COVID-19 (109.9 deaths per 100,000 males; 107 deaths).

The accompanying datasets provide data on a wide range of occupations. Other than those already mentioned, the 10 occupations with the highest rates of death involving COVID-19 were:

  • restaurant and catering establishment managers and proprietors (119.3 deaths per 100,000 males; 26 deaths)
  • metal working and machine operatives (106.1 deaths per 100,000 males; 40 deaths)
  • food, drink and tobacco process operatives (103.7 deaths per 100,000 males; 52 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)
  • nursing auxiliaries and assistants (87.2 deaths per 100,000 males; 45 deaths)
  • elementary construction occupations (82.1 deaths per 100,000 males; 70 deaths)
  • nurses (79.1 deaths per 100,000 males; 47 deaths)
  • local government administrative occupations (72.1 deaths per 100,000 males; 23 deaths)
  • bus and coach drivers (70.3 deaths per 100,000 males; 83 deaths)

Figure 2: Women working in process, plant and machine operatives, and caring, leisure and other service occupations had the highest rate of death involving COVID-19

Age-standardised mortality rates of death involving the coronavirus (COVID-19) in England and Wales, deaths registered between 9 March and 28 December 2020

Notes:

  1. Deaths involving the coronavirus (COVID-19) include those with an underlying cause, or any mention, of U07.1 (COVID-19, virus identified) or U07.2 (COVID-19, virus not identified).
  2. Figures are for residents of England and Wales aged 20 to 64 years.
  3. Occupations defined using the Standard Occupational Classification 2010 (SOC 2010).
  4. Figures are for the most recent death registrations available at the time of analysis: deaths involving COVID-19 registered between 9 March and 28 December 2020.
  5. Age-standardised rates are only presented for occupations with 20 or more deaths.

Among process, plant and machine operative occupations – the major group with the highest rate of death involving COVID-19- assemblers and routine operatives had the highest rate, with 39.2 deaths per 100,000 females (21 deaths), including jobs such as sewing machinists. Because of the small numbers of deaths, we were unable to reliably look at specific occupations among assemblers and routine operatives.

Caring, leisure and other service occupations – the major group with the next highest rate of death involving COVID-19 – had the largest number of deaths of all the major groups (460 out of 1,742 deaths; 26.4%). Most of the deaths in this group were among those who worked in caring and personal services (326 deaths; 38.3 deaths per 100,000 females). Of the caring personal services occupations, care workers and home carers had the highest rate of death involving COVID-19 (47.1 deaths per 100,000 females; 240 deaths).

The accompanying datasets provide data on a wide range of occupations. Other than those already mentioned, occupations with the highest rates of death involving COVID-19 included:

  • social workers (32.4 deaths per 100,000 females; 25 deaths)
  • national government administrative occupations (27.9 deaths per 100,000 females; 26 deaths)
  • sales and retail assistants (26.9 deaths per 100,000 females; 111 deaths)
  • managers and directors in retail and wholesale (26.7 deaths per 100,000 females, 24 deaths)
  • nursing auxiliaries and assistants (25.3 deaths per 100,000 females; 54 deaths)
  • nurses (24.5 deaths per 100,000 females; 110 deaths)

Full report – https://www.ons.gov.uk/peoplepopulationandcommunity/healthandsocialcare/causesofdeath/bulletins/coronaviruscovid19relateddeathsbyoccupationenglandandwales/deathsregisteredbetween9marchand28december2020