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Scand J Work Environ Health 2022;48(8):672-677    pdf full text | Published online: 15 Sep 2022, Issue date: 01 Nov 2022

Occupational risk of COVID-19 across pandemic waves: a two-year national follow-up study of hospital admissions

by Bonde JPE, Sell L, Jensen JH, Begtrup LM, Flachs EM, Jakobsson K, Nielsen C, Nilsson K, Rylander L, Petersen KU, Tøttenborg SS

Objective Assuming that preventive measures to mitigate viral transmission of SARS-CoV-2 at the workplace may have been improved in the course of the COVID-19 pandemic, we examined the occupational risk of COVID-19 related hospital admission across the four pandemic waves in Denmark between week 8, 2020, and week 50, 2021.

Methods The study included 4416 cases of COVID-19 related hospital admissions among 2.4 million Danish employees aged 20–69 with follow-up in 2020 through 2021. At-risk industrial sectors and a reference population were defined a priory by a job-exposure matrix on occupational risk for COVID-19. Incidence rate ratios (IRR) and potential effect modification by pandemic wave were computed with Poisson regression adjusted for demographic, social and health factors including completed COVID-19 vaccination.

Results We observed an overall elevated relative risk in four of six at-risk industrial sectors, but the pandemic wave only modified the risk among healthcare employees, where the excess risk from a high initial level declined to background levels during the latest waves in models not adjusting for COVID-19 vaccination. In social care, education and transport, the elevated risk was not modified by pandemic wave.

Conclusion Danish healthcare employees were to some extent protected against occupational transmission of SARS-CoV-2 during the two last pandemic waves even though the absolute risk conferred by occupation may not have been eliminated. Early vaccination of this group seems not to be the only explanation. The risk in other sectors remained elevated indicating a need to revisit preventive measures.

This article refers to the following text of the Journal: 2022;48(1):61-70
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