Jobs With the Highest Exposure Risk by Sector


August 21st, 2020

The COVID-19 pandemic is creating new challenges for anyone seeking jobs in BC and across Canada.

How COVID-19 Is Impacting The Job Market

During the pandemic, the provincial job market (and the job market across Canada) has contracted. Compared to last year, the number of job postings is down at least 21% [1]. Yet the number of people looking for work (or considering it) has dramatically increased; more than two-thirds of British Columbians are facing pandemic-related work impairment/insecurity, while 15% are jobless because of it [2].

What is the effect of having less work available than there are people looking for work? Primarily, many British Columbians will find their job search process is far more competitive and less successful than it has been since the  2008 recession, especially if they are looking for high-wage positions [3].

The Role Of Workplace Safety Concerns In The Job Search

Complicating many people’s job search process are concerns about job safety during the pandemic.

Among people who have been temporarily laid-off, working from home, or otherwise not working on-site during the pandemic, the number of formal refusals to return to work (citing dangerous conditions) is on the rise [4]. However, very few employers actually accept these formal refusals. This means these concerned individuals must either (a) find alternative employment or (b) continue working under unsafe conditions.

Job Types & Sectors With The Highest Risk of Coronavirus Exposure

Broadly speaking, the exposure risk for different BC jobs can be classified based on employees’ expected contact with people in the workplace, their required proximity during these interpersonal interactions, and the coronavirus status of the people they are expected to interact with [5]. Consequently:

  • Working from home or within strict social-distancing guidelines presents the least exposure risk;
  • Interacting with people who have unknown coronavirus status (while practicing some social distancing) is moderately risky;
  • Interacting with people who have unknown coronavirus status (without social distancing) is high risk; and
  • Direct contact with people who are known to have COVID-19 is a very high risk [67].

Additionally, jobs with low levels of flexibility (where employees cannot work from home and are not empowered to take leave if they feel unsafe) tend to have a higher risk of coronavirus exposure as sick employees report for shifts [8].

Based on this segmentation:

  • Jobs in healthcare (both practitioners and support staff) face the absolute highest risk of coronavirus exposure;
  • Service workers (hairdressers/barbers, cosmetologists and estheticians, childcare staff and other caretakers, restaurant workers) are at a high risk of exposure;
  • On-site jobs serving low volumes of customers and where employees remain socially distanced are only moderately risky;
  • The lowest-risk jobs are remote positions.

Specific Jobs With Very High Risk of Coronavirus Exposure & Contraction

There is some variation in the exposure risk of different jobs within these broad categories, often due to the density of the population interacting within the workplace and the local coronavirus transmission rates [7].

Preliminary research suggests that:

Among Employees Who Have Direct Contact With COVID-19 Patients:

  • The healthcare industry is the job market sector most at risk for COVID-19 exposure: 91.5% and 96.1% of healthcare practitioners and medical support staff, respectively, report being exposed to the virus at least once per month, while more than three-quarters of personnel in these positions report exposure at least once per week [9].
    • Among medical personnel, exposure risk is greatest for those working in general wards [10].
    • Janitorial staff in medical facilities also are at an elevated risk of exposure, even over some direct care staff in non-COVID-19 wards [11].
    • Other healthcare-related jobs, including those in dentistry, emergency medical services, mortuary services, and pharmacy services also face very high degrees of exposure risk [12].

Among Those Who Interact With People Who Have Unknown COVID-19 Status:

  • Flight attendants face the next-greatest exposure risk after healthcare workers, followed by protective service workers (including security guards and police officers) [12].
  • Personal care workers (i.e. hairstylists, cosmetologists, estheticians, and childcare providers and caretakers) have a high risk of exposure due to their inability to socially distance from customers.
  • Factory and manufacturing plant jobs are high risk as personnel are often unable to socially distance and have very little flexibility in employment [11].

To find out more about the coronavirus exposure risk associated with specific job positions, explore this comprehensive ranking.

About BC Jobs is Western Canada’s largest job board, with the majority of the jobs coming from Vancouver. For nearly 20 years, BC Jobs has connected job candidates with companies looking to add talent to their team. If your team is looking to recruit, is the right tool for you. During COVID, our job board accelerated through the virtual career fairs, branding, and partnerships. Contact us at today.

Tags: bc jobscovid safe jobs in canadais it safe to work during covidjobs during covidJobs in Vancouverjobs with high covid riskjobs with highest exposure riskremote jobs during covid

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