Grocery store employees are likely to be at heightened risk of COVID-19 infection, with those in customer-facing roles 5 times as likely to test positive as their colleagues in other positions, suggests the first study of its kind, published in the journal Occupational & Environmental Medicine.
Furthermore, among those testing positive, three out of four had no symptoms, suggesting these key workers could be an important reservoir of infection, say the researchers. Testing protocols of workers have been advocated by pandemic preparedness experts.
Workers in customer facing roles were five times more likely to test positive than their colleagues in other types of role, after accounting for potentially influential factors, such as the prevalence of SARS-CoV-2 where they lived. Those in supervisory roles were six times more likely to do so. NJ has strengthened the requirements for employers in the state through the implementation of mandatory protocols.
Grocery store workers have been deemed to be “essential workers” in New Jersey and the access to workers’ compensation benefits has been eased. The recently enacted law provides for a reputable presumption that the exposure at work is deemed to be causally related to COVID-19 infections.
See: Fan-Yun Lan, Christian Suharlim, Stefanos N Kales, Justin Yang. Association between SARS-CoV-2 infection, exposure risk and mental health among a cohort of essential retail workers in the USA. Occupational & Environmental Medicine, Oct. 30, 2020; DOI: 10.1136/oemed-2020-106774
Jon L. Gelman of Wayne NJ is the author of NJ Workers’ Compensation Law (West-Thomson-Reuters) and co-author of the national treatise, Modern Workers’ Compensation Law (West-Thomson-Reuters). For over 4 decades the Law Offices of Jon L Gelman 1.973.696.7900 firstname.lastname@example.org has been representing injured workers and their families who have suffered occupational accidents and illnesses.
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