The Impact of COVID-19 on Transit Workers: Perceptions of Employer Responses and Associations with Health Factors

Sean P.M. Rice, Leah S. Greenspan, Talya N. Bauer, Jarred Rimby, Todd E. Bodner, Ryan Olson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


COVID-19 has had a substantial impact on transit workers' lives, especially among public-facing vehicle operators. The current project examined relationships between workers' knowledge and perceptions of their employer's COVID-19 safety responses, job attitudes, and health. We surveyed transit workers (N = 174) between July and August 2020 and followed up 3 months later. Fifty-seven workers responded to the follow-up survey. Surveys addressed workers' knowledge and perceptions of their employer implementing Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)-recommended COVID-19 safety responses, COVID-19 risk perceptions, job attitudes, and health factors. Employees reported knowledge of their employer implementing ~8 of 12 CDC-recommended responses. The most reported response was informational poster placements; the least reported was designating a point-person for COVID-19 concerns. Significant associations were found between knowledge of employer safety responses and lower COVID-19 risk perceptions, better job attitudes, and greater mental and global health. Operators (i.e. public-facing workers) reported worse perceptions of employer responses, and higher COVID-19 risk perceptions, work stress, and turnover intentions, compared with non-operators. A time-lagged panel model found that COVID-19 risk perceptions significantly mediated the relationship between public-facing work status and follow-up depression, anxiety, stress, and global health. Results reveal opportunities for transit authorities to broaden and better communicate their responses to emergent occupational safety and health crises.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)334-347
Number of pages14
JournalAnnals of Work Exposures and Health
Issue number3
StatePublished - Apr 1 2022


  • COVID-19 risk perceptions
  • employer COVID-19 safety practices
  • occupational safety and health
  • safety communication
  • transit workers
  • transportation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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