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Some essential workers are particularly vulnerable to Covid-19, says ESRI

The report was compiled through data from the Labour Force Survey and the Healthy Ireland Survey.

WORKERS IN MANY essential jobs are particularly vulnerable to Covid-19, due to underlying characteristics like chronic illnesses, age or living in a deprived area, according to research by the Economic and Social Research Institute. 

Fifteen per cent of all workers have a chronic illness, for example, with many of those currently working in essential occupations. 

The report was compiled through data from the Labour Force Survey (LFS) and the Healthy Ireland Survey (HIS) and the total sample size of the survey is 2,361,200. 

The three factors – chronic illness, older age and living in a deprived area -  have been linked to worse health outcomes, including more severe illness, hospitalisation, and death from Covid-19. 

Over one third of workers in housekeeping and other related services have a chronic illness, with 26% of road transport workers and 22% of workers in care also having a chronic illness.

When it comes to age, of the 110,000 agriculture workers in Ireland, 63% of them are aged over 50. Housekeeping and other related services also have a large share, with 53% of the 19,810 workers over the age of 50.

There is also a high percentage of essential workers who live in deprived areas, according to the ESRI report.

45,529 people work in cleaning operations, with 39.4% living in deprived areas. Alongside this, of 24,236 construction workers, 35.5% live in deprived areas. 

The report recommends that the State works with the private sector to design and implement strategies to protect workers who are most at risk of catching Covid-19 and those who are more vulnerable to severe illness.

Brendan Walsh, a research officer at the ESRI and one of the report’s authors, says that many workers may have worse outcomes if they contract Covid-19 due to their circumstances surrounding chronic illnesses, their age and where they live.

“We find frontline occupations such as road transport drivers and care workers are particularly vulnerable, as are security guards, agricultural workers, process plant operators and those working in housekeeping and related services,” said Walsh.

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