According to a new study from the University of Texas (UT), construction workers are far more likely to be hospitalized for coronavirus than workers in other segments.
UT researchers at the Covid-19 Modeling Consortium analyzed data from mid-March to mid-August. They found that construction workers were more than five times more likely to be hospitalized by the coronavirus than workers in other occupations.
The researchers are working with the theory that construction workers were almost always viewed as essential workers and were not held home during even the tightest lockdowns. They also work in close proximity to each other.
The research is believed to be the first that looks at construction workers vs. non-construction workers. Though the study started out looking at just the Austin, TX, area, as other breakouts began to happen, the researchers started looking elsewhere instead. Their second targeted area was in Utah, where a study from the CDC ranked that state as number two for outbreaks in construction fields.
“It doesn’t necessarily mean we need to stop construction work,” said Lauren Ancel Meyers, a professor of integrative biology and director of the consortium. “It means we need to go to great lengths to ensure the health and safety of workers when they do go to work.”
The study suggested using additional safety precautions to prevent further infection rates. This includes enforcing mask mandates on worksites and physical distancing. It was recommended that the government and employers offer paid sick leave to those who may not have been diagnosed with the disease but have merely been exposed to it, a practice that is not common in many industries.