The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has had significant implications for workers and there is a need for epidemiological surveillance of COVID-19 among workers. The Occupational Disease Surveillance System (ODSS) will be used for COVID-19 surveillance among Ontario workers, to fill the existing gap in Ontario’s COVID-19 surveillance with the goal of providing a comprehensive view on the role of occupational disease transmission and outcomes in the province.

Using population-based data, the surveillance system will examine occupational differences in COVID-19 testing, diagnosis, hospitalization rates, and adverse health outcomes among Ontario workers to describe occupational differences in COVID-19 risk and risk factors. This analysis will complement ongoing work by other groups in the province, by incorporating occupation information, individual-level testing, and diagnostic results using administrative data linkage methods that have been proven to be effective in surveillance of more than 2 million Ontario workers for cancers and other health outcomes.

The following objectives will be explored in this study:

  1. COVID-19 testing will be examined by observing occupational differences in access to testing and requirements for testing. Test rates by occupation may show differences in symptoms, concern about suspected infections, or contact with known or probable COVID-19 cases.
  2. COVID-19 diagnosis will be examined by identifying trends in COVID-19 infection across occupation and industry groups. This will be examined by observing impacts of essential services categorization, including work involving contact with the public (e.g. grocery store workers), proximity to others (e.g. manufacturing facilities) and work-from-home.
  3. COVID-19 hospitalizations will be examined by observing differences in hospitalization by occupation. This will be examined by observing risks of hospitalization among occupations with different characteristics of exposure (e.g. dental hygienists vs. grocery store workers).
  4. COVID-19 adverse health outcomes will be examined by identifying trends in adverse outcomes based on a few indicators of severity of disease such as intensive care unit (ICU) admission and length of stay, mechanical ventilation, and death, depending on the availability of data.

This project is currently in progress.