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UN, CDC: Workers Suffer "Heat Stress" Due to Climate Change

Apr 29, 2016 11:12 AM EDT

The earth is not the only direct victim of climate change. Due to extreme heat, workers involved in outdoor occupations are prone to "heat stress" which may cause hazardous conditions and diseases, even death.

The United Nations (UN) warned that due to the extreme hot conditions, workers are prone to heat related injuries like heat stroke according to the latest Climate Vulnerable Forum report entitled "Climate Change and Labour: Impacts of Heat in the Workplace" .

The report says that ""when it is too hot, people work less effectively out-of-doors, in factories, the office or on the move due to diminished ability for physical exertion and for completing mental tasks."

The forum which took place in Geneva said that climate change greatly affects the working conditions of workers and is in turn reflected in productivity and in the economy. "Emerging economies face as much as 10 per cent losses in working hours because of deteriorating thermal conditions in the workplace due to climate change, according to a new report released today."

According to the same report, experts are confident that the Paris Agreement will lessen the effect of climate change and it will greatly improve the working conditions of workers.

The forum enumerated the highly vulnerable areas which includes "Southern United States, Central America and the Caribbean, Northern South America, North and West Africa, South and South East Asia."

This report means that the experts are looking after the welfare of the workers. According to Maria Luisa Silva, UNDP Geneva Director "We embarked on this report to give recognition to this specific and serious concern, and to begin the conversation on how to respond and deal with it. The challenges have to be addressed by governments, employers, employees and other relevant international organizations if we want to be able to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by 2030."

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said, not only workers are vulnerable but the people who are mostly outdoors like travelers are at risk as well. CDC said the extremely hot weather because of climate change can cause some major conditions including heat exhaustion, exercise-associated hyponatremia and heat stroke.

To protect the workers and people exposed to extreme heat, CDC advised to follow the following tips so as not to suffer from any known "heat stress"

1. Gradually increase exposure to hot environment, abrupt exposure can cause severe conditions

2. Set-up a buddy system, appoint a co-worker to routinely check on everyone who is exposed to the heat to make sure they use water and shade and that they don't  exhibit heat-related symptoms

3. Schedule and encourage frequent rest breaks...

4. Wear appropriate clothing, breathable, light-colored and loose-fitting

5. Drink plenty of fluids...

Because of climate change, workers are forced to endure extreme weather conditions in performing their job. Employers and the workers themselves should pay attention to the heightened risk and should observe proper measure to ensure that in pursuit of performing their job well, the workers are also safe from hazards of heat stress.

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