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Impacts of Climate Change on Outdoor Workers and their Safety: Some Research Priorities

Moda, Haruna and Filho, Walter Leal and Minhas, Aprajita (2019) Impacts of Climate Change on Outdoor Workers and their Safety: Some Research Priorities. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 16 (18). p. 3458. ISSN 1660-4601

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Abstract

The literature on the potential impacts of climate change on the health of outdoor workers has received limited attention as a whole and in sub-Saharan African countries in particular. Yet, substantial numbers of workers are experiencing the health effects of elevated temperature, in combination with changes in precipitation patterns, climate extremes and the effects of air pollution, which have a potential impact on their safety and wellbeing. With increased temperatures within urban settlements and frequent heats waves, there has been a sudden rise in the occurrence of heat-related illness leading to higher levels of mortality, as well as other adverse health impacts. This paper discusses the impacts of extreme heat exposure and health concerns among outdoor workers, and the resultant impacts on their productivity and occupational safety in tropical developing countries with a focus on Sub-Saharan Africa, where there is a dearth of such studies. Aside from the direct effects caused by extreme heat exposure, other indirect health hazards associated with increasing heat among this group includes exposures to hazardous chemicals and other vector-borne diseases. In addition, reduced work capacity in heat-exposed jobs will continue to rise and hinder economic and social development in such countries. There is an urgent need for further studies around the health and economic impacts of climate change in the workplace, especially in tropical developing countries, which may guide the implementation of the measures needed to address the problem.

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