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Study: California Food Industry Workers Face Highest Risk of Dying from COVID-19

 Posted on September 27,2021 in Workers' Compensation

california workers compensation lawyerThere is no doubt that the COVID-19 has affected almost every area of Americans’ lives, including in the area of job injury and safety. Our firm has written numerous blog posts about the high risk of exposure many workers have to the virus, as well as posts regarding how the federal government, the state of California’s government, and employers are addressing the multiple COVID-19 issues workers face. But a recent study by the University of California has revealed just how vulnerable food service workers are.

Threats to Food Service Industry Workers

There have been multiple incidents from around the country regarding the incidents of violence many food service workers have experienced from customers upset about enforcement of COVID-19 restrictions many restaurants have in place. Just last week, in one story that went viral, a hostess at a New York City restaurant was attacked by three out-of-town tourists when she asked the guests to show proof they were vaccinated, per the restaurant’s policy. They responded to her question by punching her repeatedly in the face. This type of scene has played out over and over again in dining establishments across the U.S.

However, it is not violent customers that put food service workers most at risk. According to the California study, food service has become one of the most dangerous industries during the pandemic because of the high rate of workers who have died from COVID-19. That rate of death is higher than almost any other industry.

The study examined excess mortality rates that involved the virus of California residents between the ages of 18 and 65, between March and October 2020. While the mortality rates for all workers increased overall by 22 percent, the highest increases were for those in the food and agricultural industries at 39 percent.

Other increases that were deemed high occurred in the transportation industry at 28 percent, facilities employees at 27 percent, and manufacturing workers at 23 percent.

The study also broke the mortality rate down by occupation and found some jarring observations. For example, line cooks had a 60 percent increase in their mortality rate and nurses had a 35 percent increase. Police officers and firefighters were not even included in the top 25 occupations that experienced an increase in morality.

The top 10 occupations in California that had the highest risk of dying from COVID-19 were:

  • Filling and packaging machine operators

  • Agricultural workers

  • Bakers

  • Construction laborers

  • Production workers

  • Sewing machine operators

  • Shipping, receiving, and traffic clerks

  • Grounds maintenance workers

  • Chefs and head cooks

Researchers also examined the COVID-19 occupation mortality rate according to race. Overall, Latinos in California had a 36 percent increase, but those in the food and agricultural industry had a 59 percent increase. Blacks living in California had a 28 percent increase in mortality rate, with the highest industry mortality rate for retail workers, at 36 percent. Asians living in California’s mortality rate was an 18 percent increase overall and a 40 percent increase for those in the healthcare industry. Whites living in California had an overall increase of 6 percent, and the highest rate increase for food and agriculture workers at 16 percent.

Contact a Santa Clara County Workers’ Comp Lawyer

If you have suffered long-term effects due to COVID-19 you were exposed to because of your occupation or have lost a loved one to job-exposure COVID-19, contact a Morgan Hill workers' compensation attorney to find out what legal options you have against your employer. Call Cramer + Martinez at 408-848-1113 today to schedule a free consultation.




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