Dentistry accounts for the top four jobs where the risk of contracting the COVID-19 virus is the highest, according to the Alberta Federation of Labour (AFL). Dental hygienists and dental therapists topped the list, followed by dental assistants, dentists, and denturists. General practitioners and family physicians faced the fifth greatest risk.
Using the 2016 Census of the Populations cross-referenced with Occupational Information Network workplace health and safety data, Paul Tulloch of Living Work Analytics analyzed employment in Alberta for the AFL and identified the risk for coronavirus exposure for hundreds of different jobs.
The analysis was based on the level of physical proximity to the public experienced by workers in their jobs and the overall frequency of exposure to contagious diseases and infections at work. The AFL notes that these variables aren’t perfect measures of risk related to COVID-19 but rather proxy measures providing an idea regarding high-risk occupations.
Also, the AFL said that workers in fields like meat-packing aren’t on the list because the data measures proximity to customers and the public, but not to other workers. It further cautions that people should not feel secure simply because their job did not make the list, as density of workers, travel, and other factors can increase risks as well.
Overall, the AFL said, women also are at greater risk because they tend to dominate occupations most associated with extreme risk such as dental hygiene. As these personnel return to work, the AFL said, the government must do more to ensure they get the protection they need.
“We’ve flattened the curve, but the virus is still circulating. There’s still no vaccine and no treatment. And the virus is still potentially deadly. The government has an obligation to protect the health of all Albertans,” said AFL president Gil McGowan.
“But, as people return to work, the Premier and his officials have a particular duty to workers in high-risk jobs. Extra efforts need to be made to protect these workers. If we fail in that regard, a second wave of infection, and another spike in deaths, will be the result. Let’s use this list to help target and strengthen our efforts to stop that from happening,” said McGowan.