Almost 600 people in Scotland may have caught coronavirus at work, according to figures.
Health and Safety Executive (HSE) data showed that between April 10 and August 8, a total of 594 Covid-19 disease reports, including eight deaths, were made by employers to the HSE and local councils.
Employers have a legal duty to report cases where there is reasonable evidence that an employee caught the virus after being exposed to it at work.
The figures show that nearly two-thirds (373) of the cases were in the residential care sector, while 32 were in “human health activities”, 146 in other “personal service” activities and the rest worked in other industries.
The HSE said it has made inquiries into five reported deaths in Scotland, and concluded that in four cases there was insufficient evidence to confirm they were the result of work-related exposure to coronavirus.
It said the fifth case is still under investigation.
Scottish Trades Union Congress general secretary Roz Foyer said: “These figures confirm our view that undervalued key workers in care and the NHS have borne the brunt of workplace transmission of the virus with some, tragically, dying as a consequence.
“These figures are almost certainly the tip of the iceberg. We suspect that there has been significant under-reporting, not to mention a significant incidence of transmission from workers without symptoms.
“Even taken at face value these figures shine a light on the failures we have witnessed in the delivery of adequate PPE and the slow response to the provision of testing for suspected Covid infection.
“Now more than ever, Government and every employer have the responsibility to get things right.
“Workplaces have been at the centre of localised outbreaks. We need the utmost vigilance, full engagement with unions and an open door for union roving health and safety reps in non-recognised workplaces.”
The Scottish Government has been asked for comment.
An HSE spokeswoman said: “We continue to carry out a detailed assessment of deaths that have been reported to us.
“Where those reported through Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations (RIDDOR) meet HSE’s incident investigation criteria, they are being processed and an investigation initiated.
“So far HSE has made inquiries into five reported deaths in Scotland, and concluded that in four of these cases there was insufficient evidence to confirm that they were the result of work-related exposure to coronavirus. The fifth case is still under investigation.
“We are in regular dialogue with the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service, Scottish Government, regulators and others on reporting and investigation of Covid-19 work-related deaths.
“In these extraordinary circumstances it is more important than ever that we work with other agencies.”
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