Occupational Health Hazards and Consequent Economic Losses Due to Workplace Heat Exposure

by Amelia Hamiter

Kjellstrom et al. (2015) study how warming temperatures due to climate change may create an occupational health hazard in tropical and subtropical countries that have a significant workforce employed in jobs in hot environments, such as physical jobs which must be done outdoors or in indoor spaces such as some factories that lack efficient cooling systems. (Air conditioning in urban areas is contested, since on a large urban scale it can increase heating of outdoor air, and because of its electricity demands. Thus indoor workplaces in some regions lack sustainable temperature control systems.) This problem is exacerbated by the high humidity of these countries, which reduces the effectiveness of sweating in cooling the body. To avoid excessive heat stress, workers must not work during the hottest hours of the day, which increase in the hottest days of the year. Many of the countries affected by this are low- to middle-income, and this issue can have an impact on their respective gross domestic products (GDPs). Preventative actions include development of coolant systems where possible as well as occupational health advisories, adjusted work hours, and other changes such as increased access to drinking water and education about symptoms of heat strain and heat stroke in the workplace. However, these strategies are limited, and also hold little hope for cutting economic losses. Global action against climate change is the most effective action to take against this situation. Continue reading

Occupational Health Hazards and Consequent Economic Losses Due to Workplace Heat Exposure

by Amelia Hamiter

Kjellstrom et al. (2015) study how warming temperatures due to climate change may create an occupational health hazard in tropical and subtropical countries that have a significant workforce employed in jobs in hot environments, such as physical jobs which must be done outdoors or in indoor spaces such as some factories that lack efficient cooling systems. (Air conditioning in urban areas is contested, since on a large urban scale it can increase heating of outdoor air, and because of its electricity demands. Thus indoor workplaces in some regions lack sustainable temperature control systems.) This problem is exacerbated by the high humidity of these countries, which reduces the effectiveness of sweating in cooling the body. To avoid excessive heat stress, workers must not work during the hottest hours of the day, which increase in the hottest days of the year. Many of the countries affected by this are low- to middle-income, and this issue can have an impact on their respective gross domestic products (GDPs). Preventative actions include development of coolant systems where possible as well as occupational health advisories, adjusted work hours, and other changes such as increased access to drinking water and education about symptoms of heat strain and heat stroke in the workplace. However, these strategies are limited, and also hold little hope for cutting economic losses. Global action against climate change is the most effective action to take against this situation. Continue reading