Recent studies have shown that certain workers may be particularly vulnerable to the effects of global warming. Some of these workers include health care workers, emergency responders, firefighters, farmers, utility workers, and transportation workers. Existing health and safety issues can be amplified and new hazards can emerge. Workers in these occupations may be exposed to hazardous conditions that members of the general public can avoid.
Possible Impacts to Workers
Impacts to workers can vary depending on industry. Factors such as extreme weather, an increase in ambient temperature and air pollution can cause health changes in workers who spend the majority of their time outdoors. Other indirect hazards can include vector-borne diseases, increase in the use of pesticides and changes in the built environment.
- Increased ambient temperatures could result in greater heat stress. This, in turn, could lead to greater instances of heat exhaustion or heat stroke.
- Air pollution can be linked to chronic health disorders like asthma.
- Extreme weather such as floods and storms may lead to injuries, disease, and death.
- Vector-borne disease is particularly worrisome for health care workers and emergency responders. These are the people who have to treat those who have been affected by natural disasters.
Research is Needed
As global warming becomes more prevalent, more research is needed to determine the actual health risks to workers. Occupational safety and global warming are linked, though it is not known just how intrinsically. A framework has been outlined to determine the route research will take. Research should, at a minimum, determine which occupations are most at risk, which geographic locations are the most hazardous, and which hazards are the most prevalent.
Global warming is of concern to everyone and, until recently, it has not been considered a hazard for workers. Now that we know better, more research is needed to determine just how those working outside and in the healthcare fields may be exposed to a greater number of illnesses and injuries.
If you have been injured at work and need a lawyer, reach out to our team. We have represented thousands of people dealing with workers’ compensation in South Carolina and we are here for you. Call us today or browse our website for more information about our firm.