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NIOSH: New Climate Change Document Addresses Effects on Workers

Release Date: April 21, 2016

The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) recently highlighted the issue of climate change and its effect on the occupational environment. In a press release, NIOSH announced the availability of U.S. Global Change Research Program Climate and Health Assessment, a report which provides a comprehensive overview of the potential health effects of climate change across the United States (U.S.). The report, which was issued by the U.S. Global Change Research Program (USGCRP), includes a section on populations of concern, including outdoor workers and workers who may be exposed to other extreme weather environments. Worker health issues are also included in other sections of the report as part of broader discussions regarding the public health impact of climate change.

According to the new report, climate change may increase the severity and prevalence of known occupational hazards as well as the development of new hazards. Those most at risk are outdoor workers, including agriculture workers, commercial fishermen, construction workers, transportation workers, and first responders. Workers in hot indoor environments, such as warehouses and factories, are also at risk.

The risk workers face from climate change includes working in hotter temperatures and the possibility of longer spans of hot days for outdoor work. These kinds of exposures can cause heat-related illnesses, as well as stress and fatigue, which can put workers at risk for injury. Workers may also have less control over their exposures to climate change related risks than the public.

In addition to heat exposures, the authors note that changes in climate patterns can cause increasingly frequent and severe weather extremes, such as storms, flooding, and drought. Warmer and dryer conditions have also increased the duration of the wildland fire season. This may result in an increased need for emergency response resources, further straining the nation’s responders both physically and psychologically.

The full report is available at https://health2016.globalchange.gov.

USGCRP was established by Presidential Initiative in 1989 and mandated by Congress in the Global Change Research Act (GCRA) of 1990 to “assist the Nation and the world to understand, assess, predict, and respond to human-induced and natural processes of global change.” Representatives from thirteen federal entities participate in USGCRP.

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The information contained in this publication was obtained from sources believed to be reliable. ISO Services, Inc., its companies and employees make no guarantee of results and assume no liability in connection with either the information herein contained or the safety suggestions herein made. Moreover, it cannot be assumed that every acceptable safety procedure is contained herein or that abnormal or unusual circumstances may not warrant or require further or additional procedure.


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