Worker Perspectives on COVID-19 Risks: A Qualitative Study of Latino Construction Workers in Oakland, California

Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2022 Aug 9;19(16):9822. doi: 10.3390/ijerph19169822.


Latino construction workers in the U.S. have faced a disproportionate risk for COVID-19 infection in the workplace. Prior studies have focused on quantifying workplace risk for COVID-19 infection; few have captured workers' experiences and perspectives. This study describes COVID-19-related workplace risks from the perspectives of Latino construction workers. We conducted a qualitative study using semi-structured phone interviews with Latino construction workers from the Fruitvale District of Oakland, California. Twenty individuals were interviewed from December 2020 to March 2021. Nearly all participants (19/20) were Spanish-speaking men; mean age 42.6 years. The majority were low-income and over one-third did not have health insurance. Participants worked in varied construction-related jobs ranging from demolition to office work; additionally, four were day laborers, and three belonged to a labor union. We identified four major themes with public health policy and workplace safety implications: (1) Major concern about the risk of SARS-CoV-2 infection for family health and economic wellbeing; (2) Clarity about mask use and social distancing but not disclosure; (3) Variability in access to additional resources provided by employers; and (4) Uncertainty around structural support for SARS-CoV-2 quarantine/isolation. Our findings provide further evidence from workers' own perspectives of the major gaps experienced during the pandemic in workplace protections and resources.

Keywords: COVID-19; Latino health; construction workers; essential workers; immigrant health; occupational health.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • COVID-19* / epidemiology
  • COVID-19* / psychology
  • California / epidemiology
  • Construction Industry
  • Hispanic or Latino / psychology
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Pandemics / prevention & control
  • Risk Factors
  • SARS-CoV-2
  • Workplace