According to a study, people who work shifts are more likely to be hospitalized with Covid-19.
Shift work was associated with higher chances of Covid-19, regardless of the type of occupational sector, according to the study in the journal Thorax.
The researchers called for more work to be done to ensure that shift workers have safe working conditions.
They examined data from the UK biobank study and compared it with data on positive Covid-19 test results from hospitalized patients.
Between March and the end of August 2020, more than 6,000 participants in the biobank study had a Covid-19 test carried out in the hospital, of which 498 gave a positive test result.
Of these, 316 did not work in shifts, while 98 worked in irregular shifts and 84 in permanent shifts.
The researchers examined data on different types of shift work, but healthcare workers were excluded from the analysis.
They found that hospital shift workers were more likely to test positive for Covid-19 than non-shift workers.
A person who does irregular shift work was more than twice as likely to be positive for Covid-19 as someone who does not work shifts, the authors found.
Permanent shift work seemed to increase the likelihood that a person would test positive for Covid-19, even when other factors such as age, gender, and ethnicity were taken into account.
And those who work irregular night shifts were three times more likely to test positive for the virus in hospitals.
The authors said that the effects of shiftwork as a risk factor for Covid-19 are comparable to some other more well-known risk factors for the disease, including ethnicity, high body mass index, and living in a deprived neighborhood.
One of the possible explanations for the results could be that shift workers face “increased occupancy of work areas … shorter cleaning time between shift and fatigue, resulting in lower awareness of health and safety measures,” they said.
The authors concluded: “We show that shift workers have an increased likelihood of Covid-19, which is comparable to known Covid-19 risk factors.
“Sensible workplace precautions for shiftworkers may include increased training and monitoring of safety protocols after hours, increased cleaning schedules, fewer workers on a shift, providing personal protective equipment for shiftworkers, and targeting Covid-19 vaccination programs. “
Dr. John Blaikley of the University of Manchester said, “This study shows a fairly strong association between shift work and hospitalization for Covid-19, even after controlling for existing Covid-19 risk factors.”
The co-author Dr. Hannah Durrington of the University of Manchester said: “We believe it should be possible to significantly reduce these risks through good hand washing, the use of face shields, adequate intervals and vaccinations.”