Effects of climate change on occupational health

The study of the effect of climate change on occupational health is only in its beginnings, but there is already relevant research that evaluates the impact of climate change on occupational health and productivity.

Global warming is no longer a problem of the future. Droughts, hurricanes, hunger, poverty and destruction: these are some of the terrible consequences that global warming causes on our planet.

The impacts derived from the increase in temperature put everyone’s health at risk. However, especially vulnerable are those workers who work outdoors (ports, construction, mountains, etc.) and those who carry out their work in closed places subjected to high temperatures (such as kitchens, ovens, etc. ). All this, together with the mandatory use of masks due to covid-19, which raises body temperature, can worsen previous pathologies such as heart disease and increase the chances of suffering accidents at work

The organization Comisiones Obreras states that in 2016 there was a 5.3% decrease in productivity worldwide with respect to the levels of the year 2000 in exposed populations. The loss of work capacity in particularly hot parts of the world is up to 10% today and could reach 30-40% in 2085.

This loss of labor productivity due to heat is not the same in all parts of the world. In developing countries, it is estimated to be 6.6 days and 3.5 days for developed countries. In the future, Southeast Asian countries, with global warming of 1.5 ° C, are expected to suffer the same loss as developed countries with a temperature increase of 4 ° C.

Climate change will also aggravate existing occupational hazards and bring about new ones. Extreme ambient temperatures cause discomfort and impair attention, which can eventually lead to workplace accidents.

For Spain, studies conclude that extreme cold increases the risk of occupational accidents by 4%, while extreme heat increases it by 9% at the state level.

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