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Analysis of job-related health effects of the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic based on the National Cohort in Germany (NAKO Health Study)

Project number: F 2515 Institution: Federal Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (BAuA), University Hospital of Düsseldorf (UKD) Status: Ongoing Project Planned end: 2021-10-31


Are people in different occupations more or less likely to be infected with SARS-CoV-2 at work? Are there other job-related factors that influence this risk? For instance, does it matter whether someone commutes to work or stays in their home office? Policymakers, organisations, and employees are dealing with these questions during the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic.

It is assumed that particular occupational groups are exposed to an increased risk of infection due to their specific working conditions, for example because they have frequent contact with colleagues or customers. Furthermore, it is also supposed that the risk is raised for employees whose activities involve close physical contact with clients or patients.

This project will find out whether the members of these occupational groups actually have higher infection rates with SARS-CoV-2. Furthermore, the study aims at investigating changes in self-rated health among employees belonging to the various occupational groups compared to the period before the pandemic. At the same time, the significance of work-related risks and resources will be analysed.

In order to answer the research questions, data from the NAKO Health Study (NAKO Gesundheitsstudie), Germany's largest cohort study with about 150,000 employed participants, will be used. Apart from information about the participants’ occupation, a great deal of work and health-related data relevant to the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic have also been gathered in the course of the NAKO Health Study. The information regarding the occupation is currently only available in free-text form. Accordingly, this information will be categorised using the German Classification of Occupations 2010 (Klassifikation der Berufe 2010, KldB 2010) and the International Standard Classification of Occupations 2008 (ISCO-08).

Up until now, it is only possible for an infectious condition to be recognised as an occupational disease if the workers affected are employed in the health system, the social welfare sector, or a laboratory. It is currently discussed whether infectious conditions should also be recognised as occupational diseases for other jobs. The project’s results on workers’ risks of infection can contribute to this discussion.

The findings from the project will supply policymakers and organisations with evidence about the areas where it is necessary to take additional occupational safety and health measures to prevent individuals from becoming infected with SARS-CoV-2.


Division 3 "Work and Health"

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