Heatwave Impact on Workers
Research from the University of Adelaide has identified the impact of changes in ambient temperature on injuries to workers. Xiang et al., (2014) found that a 1 degree change in maximal temperature resulted in a 0.2% increase in daily injury (workers compensation) claims from Adelaide, SA (dry climate). To rephrase their findings, a 10 degree increase in maximal temperature from one day to the next is expected to result in a 2% increase in injury claims. Those most at risk are labourers, production and transport workers and tradespersons. While the industries at risk included agriculture, forestry and fishing, construction, and electricity, gas and water.
Occupational heat illness was also positively associated with maximum temperature, with a 1 degree change in maximal temperature resulting in a 12.7% increase of occupational heat illness claims, especially above a threshold temperature of ~36 degrees (Xiang et al., 2015). Overall, during heatwave periods, the risk of occupational heat illness was ~4–7 times higher than that of non-heatwave periods, confirming that workers ought to considered as a vulnerable population during heat waves.
Much can be done to mitigate the risk of workers suffering heat illness during heatwaves, with a variety of practical solutions covering in previous e-Bulletins.
Xiang J, Bi P, Pisaniello D, and Hansen A. 2014. The impact of heatwaves on workers' health and safety in Adelaide, South Australia. Environmental Research 133:90-5.
Xiang J, Hansen A, Pisaniello D, and Bi P. 2015. Extreme heat and occupational heat illnesses in South Australia, 2001-2010. Occupational and Environmental Medicine 72(8):580-6.