Report Details Climate Change’s Potential Health Effects on Workers

Date First Published on SafetySmart Compliance: August 2nd, 2016
Topics: Environmental Compliance | Heat & Cold Stress |

Potential health effects on workers as a result of climate change are included in a new report from the US Global Change Research Program.

The US Global Change Research Program Climate and Health Assessment report (https://health2016.globalchange.gov) contains a section on populations of concern, including outdoor workers and workers who may be exposed to other extreme weather environments.

Climate change may increase the severity and prevalence of known occupational hazards, as well as the development of new hazards, with outdoor workers being most at risk—particularly agricultural workers, commercial fishers, utility workers, construction workers, transportation workers, and first responders.

The report states that workers in hot indoor work environments such as warehouses and factories are also at risk for health effects caused by climate change.

“The risk workers face from climate change includes working in hotter temperatures and the possibility of longer spans of hot days for outside work. These kinds of exposures can cause heat-related illnesses, as well as stress and fatigue, which can put workers at risk for injury,” says the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH). “Workers may also have less control over their exposures to climate-change-related risks than the general public.”

The report also notes that changes in climate patterns can cause increasingly frequent and severe weather extremes, such as storms, flooding and drought. Warmer and drier conditions have also increased the duration of the wildland fire season.

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