Original article

Scand J Work Environ Health 2023;49(5):350-362    pdf full text

https://doi.org/10.5271/sjweh.4092 | Published online: 17 Apr 2023, Issue date: 01 Jul 2023

Between-occupation differences in work-related COVID-19 mitigation strategies over time: Analysis of the Virus Watch Cohort in England and Wales

by Beale S, Yavlinsky A, Hoskins S, Nguyen V, Byrne T, Fong WLE, Kovar J, Van Tongeren M, Aldridge RW, Hayward A; The Virus Watch

Objectives COVID-19 mitigations have had a profound impact on workplaces, however, multisectoral comparisons of how work-related mitigations were applied are limited. This study aimed to investigate (i) occupational differences in the usage of key work-related mitigations over time and (ii) workers’ perceptions of these mitigations.

Methods Employed/self-employed Virus Watch study participants (N=6279) responded to a mitigation-related online survey covering the periods of December 2020–February 2022. Logistic regression was used to investigate occupation- and time-related differences in the usage of work-related mitigation methods. Participants’ perceptions of mitigation methods were investigated descriptively using proportions.

Results Usage of work-related mitigation methods differed between occupations and over time, likely reflecting variation in job roles, workplace environments, legislation and guidance. Healthcare workers had the highest predicted probabilities for several mitigations, including reporting frequent hand hygiene [predicted probability across all survey periods 0.61 (95% CI 0.56–0.66)] and always wearing face coverings [predicted probability range 0.71 (95% CI 0.66–0.75) – 0.80 (95% CI 0.76–0.84) across survey periods]. There were significant cross-occupational trends towards reduced mitigations during periods of less stringent national restrictions. The majority of participants across occupations (55–88%) agreed that most mitigations were reasonable and worthwhile even after the relaxation of national restrictions; agreement was lower for physical distancing (39–44%).

Conclusions While usage of work-related mitigations appeared to vary alongside stringency of national restrictions, agreement that most mitigations were reasonable and worthwhile remained substantial. Further investigation into the factors underlying between-occupational differences could assist pandemic planning and prevention of workplace COVID-19 transmission.

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