Developed in collaboration with the ILO, the International Organization for Migration, UNI Global Union, the International Trade Union Confederation, the International Organization of Employers, and ACT Alliance, and together with the Climate Vulnerable Forum and the support of the the World Health Organisation, this report looks at the impact of rising temperatures due to climate change on the workforce.
The phenomenon of heat stress refers to heat received in excess of that which the body can tolerate without physiological impairment. It is one of the major consequences of global warming. By 2030, the equivalent of more than 2 per cent of total working hours worldwide is projected to be lost every year, either because it is too hot to work or because workers have to work at a slower pace. This report shows the impact of heat stress on productivity and decent work for virtually all countries in the world.
A feature of climate impacts on occupational health and safety are physiological limits to carrying out physical work at high heat exposure. Heat stress reduces a workers work capacity, leading to lower hourly labour productivity and economic output. We used existing weather station data and climate modeling grid cell data to describe heat conditions (calculated as Wet Bulb Globe Temperature, WBGT) in South-East Asia.
This chapter describes the 5 components of heat exposure and effect studies in workplace settings: a descriptive pilot study; heat monitoring studies; exploratory interview surveys; quantitative studies of heat exposure-response relationships; and occupational health and economic impact assessment for local climate change. These components can be carried out separately or in combination and the results of local studies can be used to improve occupational health protection actions and can contribute to the global assessments of climate change impacts.
A number of aspects of human health are caused by, or associated with, local climate conditions, such as heat and cold, rainfall, wind and cloudiness. Any of these aspects of health can also be affected by climate change, and the predicted higher temperatures, changes in rainfall, and more frequent extreme weather conditions will create increased health risks in many workplaces. Important occupational health risks include heat stress effects, injuries due to extreme weather, increased chemical exposures, vector-borne diseases and under-nutrition.
Summary Extreme heat induced by climate change will cause profound adverse consequences for work, human performance, daily life, and the economy in large parts of the world. The increasing temperatures are the most predictable effects of climate change, and all models of future trends show significant increase this century. The heat problems will become even worse in the next one or two centuries, depending on the global climate policies established this year. The global areas worst affected by extreme heat will be tropical countries,
First paragraph of book chapter: The human body has behavioural and physical mechanisms that work to maintain its core temperature at about 37°C. If the body’s internal temperature rises above this level, then body systems and vital physiological functions are compromised, and in severe cases, death can result. The climatic conditions relevant to such heat stress may be measured in terms of the Wet Bulb Globe Temperature (WBGT), which takes account of temperature, humidity, wind speed, and solar radiation.1 We calculate WBGT for in-shade (no
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Ambient heat exposure is a well-known health hazard, which reduces human performance and work capacity at heat levels already common in tropical and subtropical areas. Various health problems have been reported. Increasing heat exposure during the hottest seasons of each year is a key feature of global climate change. Heat exhaustion and reduced human performance are often overlooked in climate change health impact analysis. Later this century, many among the four billion people who live in hot areas worldwide will experience significantly reduced work capacity owing to climate change.