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More and more workers suffer health risks from climate change

More and more workers suffer health risks from climate change

More and more workers face health risks linked to climate change in the world, warned the UN on Monday, noting that existing regulations do not offer adequate protections.

A report from the UN’s International Labor Organization (ILO) points out that climate change has affected the health and safety of workers around the world.

“A shocking number of workers are already exposed to climate change-related risks in the workplace, and these numbers are only likely to get worse,” according to the ILO.

Agricultural workers and others who perform heavy labor in hot climates may be exposed to numerous hazards, including excessive heat, ultraviolet radiation, air pollution, vector-borne diseases, and agrochemicals.

Workers in hot indoor environments or poorly ventilated spaces also face significant risks.

“Workers are among the most exposed to the risks of climate changeBut they often have no choice but to continue working, even if conditions are dangerous.says the report.

In 2020, the latest year for which statistics are available, an estimated 2.4 billion workers, or more than 70% of the global workforce, were exposed to excessive heat at some point during their workday. The figure exceeds 65.5% two decades ago, the ILO added.

Nearly 23 million occupational injuries attributed to excessive heat are reported each year, with an estimated cost of nearly 19,000 lives per year, the report states.

Those numbers do not include the more than 26 million people worldwide who live with chronic kidney disease linked to heat in the workplace.

And the impact of global warming on workers goes beyond heat exposure, says the ILO.

According to the organization, numerous conditions dangerous to the health of workers have been linked to climate change, including cancer, cardiovascular diseases, respiratory illnesses, kidney dysfunction and mental health conditions.

The ILO points out that 1.6 billion workers worldwide are exposed to ultraviolet radiation each year, with 18,960 occupational deaths annually due to skin cancer.

Another 1.6 billion people would be exposed to pollution in the workplace, resulting in 860,000 annual deaths linked to outdoor work.

More than 870 million agricultural workers are exposed to pesticides, with more than 300,000 deaths annually attributed to poisoning with these products.

And 15,000 work-related deaths annually are attributed to exposure to diseases transmitted by parasites or vectors, according to the report.

“It is clear that climate change is already creating significant additional health risks for workers”Manal Azzi, head of the ILO Occupational Safety and Health Team, highlighted in a statement.

“It is essential that we heed these warnings. “Occupational safety and health considerations must become part of our responses to climate change.”he added.

The ILO said the evolving and intensifying risks of climate change could force countries to review existing laws or create new regulations and guidance to ensure worker protection.

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Source: Gestion

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