The occupation group of “process, plant and machine operatives” has recorded the highest number of deaths with Covid-19 mentioned on the death certificate during the pandemic, with an age-standardised death rate of 70 per 100,000.
This is a broad group, which includes miners, quarry workers, construction workers, bus drivers, taxi drivers and rail and tram workers, among many others.
The group is split into two, with a higher death rate among those occupations relating just to process and machine operatives than those including transport workers – 77 per 100,000 compared to 68.
Importantly, the data looks at occupations as stated on the death certificate and does not mean to say the individuals caught the virus at work. The figures are also relatively small – just 679 deaths have been attached to particular occupations throughout the pandemic.
But within that number there are stark differences.
People in the “professional” job group had a death rate of just seven per 100,000.
In healthcare workers, the rate was 14, while in social care it was 46.
“Process, plant and machine operatives” is also the job group most at risk of death from any cause, with a rate of more than 600 deaths in total per 100,000 recorded during the pandemic.
It has been widely recognised that social class and occupation play a role in determining people’s risk of being affected by Covid-19.
In a presentation on health inequalities, Professor Vittal Katikireddi, NHS Scotland consultant in public health, linked together social factors, exposure to the virus in different jobs and ethnicity.
He told a conference hosted by the Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh on Wednesday: “When we look at the chance of ending up in hospital, we also see quite important differences across ethnic groups.
“But interesting, the risks are often comparable to the risks we see in terms of differences in exposure to the virus.
“It's possible that actually all of the differences in the chance of ending up in hospital could be because people are coming into contact with the virus more often.”