Study population and setting
A sample of US adults (aged 18 and older) were recruited randomly by mail in June 2020 to participate in an online survey measuring COVID-19 precautions in the workplace. Analyses were restricted to participants who self-reported working in non-healthcare settings and in-person from March 2020 onwards. The relationship between employer provision of protective equipment for COVID-19 mitigation in the workplace (e.g., masks, face shields, other personal protective equipment) and voluntary use of protective equipment were investigated using risk differences, estimated from weighted regression models.
Summary of Main Findings
Among 742 participants retained in the analysis, half (45.6%) reported using protective equipment in the workplace—over half (55.5%) of whom were required by their employers to do so. Among those who did not use protective equipment in the workplace, a majority (77.2%) perceived not needing them in the workplace. Compared to higher-income adults, lower-income adults were less likely to report using protective equipment (22.3% vs. 48.9%) and that their employer mandated using protective equipment (22.3% vs. 27.7%), but were more likely to report being unable access protective equipment (12.6% vs. 4.5%) and were prohibited from using protective equipment (6.8% vs. 2.5%). Protective equipment was reported as being used by one quarter (28.9%) of participants whose workplaces had no policies mandating or prohibiting the use of protective equipment. Controlling for occupation type and self-reported proximity to others in the workplace, voluntary use of protective equipment was 22.3% higher among adults provided with protective equipment in the workplace relative to adults whose employers did not provide protective equipment.
Investigators captured multiple response options (i.e., inability to obtain, prohibited from using, required use, provided but not required use) to measure workplace policies governing occupational provision and use of protective equipment.
Mail-based recruitment may have oversampled adults whose experiences and behaviors are different from those who were unable to participate, potentially producing biased prevalence and effect estimates. Additionally, because the survey was fielded at a single point in time (June 2020), results may not be representative of employed adults at other points in time. Because these were self-reported data, investigators could not confirm personal protective equipment usage or workplace provision of protective equipment.
This is among the first studies to estimate the prevalence of provision and use of protective equipment for COVID-19 prevention in non-healthcare occupational settings in the United States.
This review was posted on: 9 April 2021