New research has investigated the effects of heat on workers' health and safety, as well as its social and economic impacts. Researchers reviewed existing studies to learn more about how workplace heat exposure affects people and economies.
They found heat exposure at work has consistent negative effects on both people's health and the economy. Productivity globally is already dropping by about 10% due to heat, and this could rise to 30-40% by the end of the century if climate change worsens.
Places with a lot of outdoor workers, especially in low-income countries, are most affected. Industries like agriculture and construction are hit hardest. The research also noted that strategies to reduce heat-related productivity loss, like cooling measures and schedule changes, are not well-studied.
In its conclusion, the research paper stresses the need for better prevention efforts, especially in poorer countries and regions that are expected to see more frequent and intense heat waves due to climate change.
‘There is an urgent need for holistic work management policies such as the Total Worker Health approach and for climate change adaptation and mitigation efforts to protect workers’ health from future warming and climate extremes, especially in most vulnerable agriculture, manufacturing, and construction sectors and in very hot countries with high-intensity work.’