27 July 2020
RMT Press Office:
Bus union RMT has responded today to the initial assessment report on bus driver mortality that has been produced by the UCL Institute of Health Equity which was commissioned by Transport for London.
The report shows that among bus drivers, those aged 65 and over, those from BAME backgrounds and those with pre-existing hypertension are at higher risk of Covid-19 mortality and this should be taken into account in efforts by TfL and bus companies to reduce risks. It concludes that had lockdown come earlier it is likely that far fewer bus drivers would have died.
Among 13 deaths certificates provided by relatives of drivers who died, in seven cases, hypertension was identified by the certifying doctor as a contributory factor to the death. This is clearly indicative of both the sedentary nature of bus driving and work–related stress, which the report alludes to.
RMT Senior Assistant General Secretary Mick Lynch said:
“This report is an indictment of the Government’s sluggish and irresponsible initial responses to the Covid-19 pandemic.
“While the timing of actions by most companies was similar, the majority of actions were probably initiated after most of the drivers who died had become infected. Bus companies need to be more proactive in understanding existing health conditions of bus drivers, supporting better health and identifying those most at risk of COVID-19 mortality.
“BAME staff, especially those living in poorer areas , are more at risk of becoming severely ill and dying from COVID-19. The recommendations in PHE’s recently published report ‘Beyond the data: Understanding the impact of COVID-19 on BAME groups’ should be implemented.
“In particular that employers should have strategies to create healthy and supportive workplaces – within and outside the health service – that have zero tolerance for discrimination and empower BAME staff to raise concerns about occupational risk and safety.”
The report “Beyond the data: Understanding the impact of COVID-19 on BAME groups” can be found here https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/892376/COVID_stakeholder_engagement_synthesis_beyond_the_data.pdf