Reasons for low protection of vulnerable workers from covid-19—results from the quantitative and qualitative study on working life in Latvia

Linda Matisāne (Coresponding Author), Linda Paegle, Maija Eglīte, Lāsma Akūlova, Asnate Anna Linde, Ivars Vanadziņš, Iveta Mietule, Jeļena Lonska, Lienīte Litavniece, Iluta Arbidāne, Sarmīte Rozentāle, Ieva Grīntāle

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Abstract

Several individual factors like older age and chronic diseases have been linked with more severe symptoms often leading to hospitalization and higher mortality from COVID-19. Part of adults with such factors is still active in the workforce. The objective of the study was to identify measures taken by the employer to protect them and to investigate reasons for low protection of vulnerable workers during the 1st wave of the COVID-19 pandemic. Answers from 1000 workers collected via web-survey and results from 10 focus group discussions were analyzed. Only 31.5% of respondents mentioned that their employer had identified existing vulnerable groups and offered specific measures to protect them. Moving vulnerable workers away from the workplace was the most frequent measure (e.g., transfer to the back-office without contact with clients, telework, paid vacations, paid downtime). Most employers do not see elderly workers and workers with chronic diseases as risk groups, thus are not specifically protecting them. Instead, several employers have included workers critical for business continuity in their risk group. Others had not taken measures because of the lack of information due to general data protection regulation. Poor communication and lack of interest of employers to ask their workers if they need special protection is the topic to be addressed at the national level.

Original languageEnglish
Article number5188
JournalInternational Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health
Volume18
Issue number10
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2 May 2021

Keywords

  • Chronic diseases
  • COVID-19
  • Occupational health
  • Vulnerable workers
  • Workplace risk assessment

Field of Science

  • 3.3 Health sciences

Publication Type

  • 1.1. Scientific article indexed in Web of Science and/or Scopus database

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