by Hannah Brown
Men working in process plants, as security guards or as chefs had some of the highest Covid-19 death rates in 2020, new figures show.
According to the statistics published by the Office for National Statistics (ONS), plant workers recorded a rate of 143.2 coronavirus deaths per 100,000 males, compared with a rate of 31.4 among men of the same age in the wider population.
For security guards and related occupations, the figure stood at 100.7 deaths per 100,000 males.
Restaurant and catering establishment managers and proprietors faced 119.3 deaths per 100,000 males (26 deaths) while deaths among chefs stood at 103.1 deaths per 100,000 males (82 deaths).
Men had a higher Covid death rate than women, making up nearly two thirds of the virus deaths.
All the figures cover deaths registered in England and Wales between March 9 and December 28 2020.
Among female workers, plant and machine operatives accounted for 57 deaths (33.7 per 100,000 females) and of these, assemblers and routine operatives - such as sewing machinists - accounted for 21 deaths.
Sales and retail assistants (111 deaths), social workers (25 deaths), Managers and directors in retail and wholesale ( 24 deaths) also accounted for high covid death rates amongst women.
The average rate for deaths involving Covid-19 among all women aged 20 to 64 was 16.8.
Pandemic has exposed 'huge inequalities'
The Trades Union Congress (TUC) said the pandemic has exposed "huge inequalities" in the labour market, with those in lower-paid jobs often forced to put themselves at risk.
Ben Humberstone, ONS head of health analysis and life events, said: "Jobs with regular exposure to Covid-19 and those working in close proximity to others continue to have higher Covid-19 death rates when compared with the rest of the working age population.”
However, the figures do not prove that rates of death are caused directly by differences in employment.
"There are a complex combination of factors that influence the risk of death, from your age and your ethnicity, where you live and who you live with, to pre-existing health conditions," Mr Humberstone added.
"Our findings do not prove that the rates of death involving Covid-19 are caused by differences in occupational exposure."
Workplace Covid deaths 'vastly under-reported'
Rates of death involving Covid-19 among male and female social care workers in 2020 were "statistically significantly higher" than those for the wider working population, the ONS said.
A total of 469 Covid-19 deaths among social care workers were registered in England and Wales, with rates of 79.0 deaths per 100,000 males and 35.9 deaths per 100,000 females.
Among healthcare workers, men had a statistically significant higher rate of death involving Covid-19 (44.9 deaths per 100,000 males), while for women the rate was not significantly different (17.3 deaths per 100,000).
The TUC claimed workplace Covid-19 deaths have been "vastly under-reported".
Frances O'Grady, general secretary said: "Everyone should be safe at work. But this pandemic has exposed huge inequalities in our labour market.
"People working in low-paid and insecure jobs have been forced to shoulder much higher risk, with too many losing their lives."
Dame Donna Kinnair, chief executive and general secretary of the Royal College of Nursing, said: "The fact the rate of death amongst nursing staff is significantly higher than the general population highlights the absolute need to properly investigate why this is happening and give them the protection they need."