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Over 70% Of Global Workers Likely  To Suffer Climate Change Risks, ILO Cautions

... Lists Excessive Heat, Solar Ultraviolet Radiation, Vector-Borne Diseases, Others As Key Hazards


By Edu Abade

Over 70 percent of the global workforce will likely be exposed to climate-change-related health hazards, especially from intense heat waves in Africa and across the world, a new report from the International Labour Organization (ILO) has revealed.

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Using the most recent figures from 2020, the report, which indicated that the risks have increased from 65.5 percent in 2000, disclosed that excessive heat is just one of the hazards, adding that about 2.4 billion workers are estimated to be exposed to the dangers of the climate crisis.

The report identified other risks to include solar ultraviolet (UV) radiation, extreme weather events, workplace air pollution, vector-borne diseases and agrochemicals, adding that some workers could face a cocktail of hazards, including “agricultural workers and other outdoor workers carrying out heavy labour in unprecedented hot climates.”

According to the ILO report, the impacts of these health hazards could be deadly, as an estimated 18,970 people have been projected to die from work-related exposures attributable to excessive heat each year, while over 18,960 will die from non-melanoma skin cancer.

In a statement, Occupational Safety and Health Team Lead at the ILO, Manal Azzi, said: “It is clear that climate change is already creating significant additional health hazards for workers. Occupational safety and health considerations must be become part of our climate change responses in both policies and actions.”
The report also pointed out the financial implications of these impacts, including “lost productivity, business disruptions and damaged infrastructure,” insisting that while it calls for more government regulations to better protect workers, it also highlights the capacity for corporate change.

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“Employers are encouraged to prioritize finding ways to reduce workplace emissions and implementing sustainable work practices as well as establishing safety measures at the workplace level,” the report stressed.
For instance, to combat the dangers of excessive heat, the report highlights practices such as allowing regular breaks for employees, proper hydration, air conditioning and smart scheduling to avoid the “hottest times of the day” when doing some of their work outside.

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Experts previously told Inc. that enforcing and clearly communicating these measures is key to ensuring that employees feel comfortable taking advantage of them. But leaders and their teams should also know the signs of heat illness themselves, said one expert-Juley Fulcher, worker health and safety advocate at Public Citizen, a consumer rights advocacy group to “be able to recognize it when it’s happening.”

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Joshua Okoria

Joshua Okoria is a Lagos based multi-skilled journalist covering the maritime industry. His ICT and graphic design skills makes him a resourceful person in any modern newsroom. He read mass communication at the Olabisi Onabanjo University and has sharpened his knowledge in media practice from several other short courses. 07030562600, hubitokoria@gmail.com

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