Protecting workers from climate change effects Dr Shaikhah Alfajjam Head of Shuaba Industrial Medical Centre Heath, safety, and security Kuwait forum 2018
Outlines • Climate change…the basics • Effects of climate change. • Effects of climate change on workers. • Protection of workers from climate change effects.
Climate change-basic The green house effect • Green house gases are necessary for life (good)- it keeps our climate warm and prevents it from fluctuating. • It is bad when there are too many greenhouse gasses and the climate gets warmer (GLOBAL WARMING).
Climate change-basic Global worming • Is the increase of the Earth’s average surface temperature due to a build-up of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. • The planet's average surface temperature has risen about 1.62 degrees Fahrenheit (0.9 degrees Celsius) since the late 19th century.
Climate change-basic • “Climate change” refers to the increasing changes in the measures of climate over a long period of time – including precipitation, temperature, and wind patterns. • More evaporation. .. more rain. • Sea-levels are rising, Glaciers are melting, Extreme weather...
Effect of climate change on workers – vulnerability Intersection of Social Determinants of Health and Vulnerability
Effect of climate change on workers- vulnerable workers • Outdoor workers e.g. farmers, and other agricultural workers; commercial fishermen; construction workers; • First responders e.g. paramedics, firefighters and other; • Migrant workers and day laborer • Transportation workers • Indoor workers • Military personnel
Effect of climate change on workers- how can it affect workers • amplify existing health and safety issues • lead to new unanticipated hazards
Effect of climate change on workers-hazards • 1- Heat and Hot Environments • Heat-related illnesses (for example, heat stroke and heat exhaustion) and fatigue among workers. • Reduced vigilance, safety lapses, reduced work capacity, and increased risk of injury.
Effect of climate change on workers-hazards 2-Extremes weather and natural disasters • Expose rescue and recovery workers to physical and psychological hazards. • Injuries and deaths: slips, trips, falls, road accidents (from infrastructure failure (roads, buildings, and transportation systems), lightning strikes, flooding, high winds or other conditions.
Effect of climate change on workers-hazards 3- Air pollution
Effect of climate change on workers-hazards 4- Victor borne disease and other biological Hazards • Food-borne and water-borne diseases • Vector-borne disease such as Lyme disease • Pollens • Molds • Poisonous plants
Effect of climate change on workers- social and development impacts 5- Job insecurity and job loss Extreme weather events may force places of employment to close for months, or permanently. Agricultural workers lost their jobs as fields were fallowed as a result of California’s drought. Low-wage workers often lack resources and capacity to respond to climate change impacts
Effect of climate change on workers-hazards 6- Emerging concerns - Ice melt in the Arctic • Potential increase in oil and gas exploration, mining, shipping, commercial fishing, tourism search and rescue resources, oil-spill or other environmental contamination response workers may emerge as significant concerns. • Green jobs . • For example, the International Renewable Energy Agency estimates that there were 769,000 renewable energy jobs in the US in 2015.
How can we protect workers from climate change? 1- Preventive approach that reduce climate change itself • Greenhouse gas emission control measures, or climate change mitigation. • COP 21 in Paris, on 12 December 2015 (greenhouse-gas-emissions mitigation, adaptation, and finance, starting in the year 2020)
How can we protect workers from climate change? 2- preventive approach that encourage adaptation, or finding healthy and productive ways to live and work in the hotter environment. • World Meteorological Organization (WMO) and the World Health Organization (WHO) have issued new joint guidance on Heat–Health Warning Systems to address the health risks posed by heatwaves, • ILO adopted the “Guidelines for a just transition towards environmentally sustainable economies and societies for all”
How can we protect workers from climate change? Advocate for policies and standards to protect workers in the face of a changing climate: • Promote awareness of the impact climate change already has on health. • Inducting information and training campaigns. • Develop risk assessments, risk management programs and control recommendations for the at-risk workers, and • Include climate change in risk communication.
How can we protect workers from climate change? heat stress Heat protection measures -management responsibility. • Engineering controls • change the processes • Increase air velocity by using fans or air conditioning • Use reflective or heat-absorbing shielding or barriers. • Reduce steam leaks, wet floors, or humidity
How can we protect workers from climate change? heat stress Heat protection measures -management responsibility. • Administrative control • Limiting Exposure Time and/or Temperature • Schedule hot jobs for the cooler part of the day and/or schedule hot jobs on alternate rather than successive days. • Schedule routine maintenance and repair work in hot areas for the cooler seasons of the year. • Redesign the work to increase distance from radiant heat sources. • Alter the work/rest schedule to permit more rest time
Control of heat stress:Management responsibilities • Provide cool areas (e.g. shaded) for rest and recovery.
How can we protect workers from climate change? heat stress Heat protection measures –supervisor responsibilities • Implementing a written outdoor heat stress program • Evaluate and control heat stress factor • Encourage frequent water consumption • Encourage healthy life style • Encourage co-worker observation to detect signs and symptoms in others • Acclimatize new workers or those on a long absence • Proper response to heat stress illness
How can we protect workers from climate change? heat stress Heat protection measures –supervisor responsibilities • Follow the instruction of safety officer and health care professionals • Frequently drinking water • Reporting signs and symptoms of heat stress to their supervisor (self and others) • Get adequate rest • Avoid caffeine • Maintain healthy life style
How can we protect workers from climate change? Future research: • Examine the interactions between climate change and workers, • Identify vulnerable worker populations, • Ascertain appropriate surveillance and indicators, • Develop risk communication tools, • Develop effective controls and adaptation strategies that reduce climate change impact on workers, reinforcing vigilance to identify and control unanticipated hazards, creating new work practices, and using alternative chemicals and materials.
references • https://www.cdc.gov/niosh/topics/climate/how.html • https://www.safeopedia.com/2/4595/ehs/environmental/4-ways-climate-change-is-affecting-your-employees • http://climatehealthconnect.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/09/AirQuality.pdf • https://www.ilo.org/wcmsp5/groups/public/---ed_emp/---emp_ent/documents/publication/wcms_432859.pdf • https://health2016.globalchange.gov/populations-concern