New Climate Change and Health Document includes Effects on Workers

April 5, 2016
NIOSH Update:

Contact: Christina Spring (202) 245-0633

New Climate Change and Health Document includes Effects on Workers

The potential health effects of climate change on workers is now available in a new report just released by the U.S. Global Change Research Program. The report, U.S. Global Change Research Program Climate and Health Assessment provides a comprehensive overview of the potential health effects of climate change across the US. Included in the report is 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. Most at risk are outdoor workers, which includes 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 general 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.govexternal icon

NIOSH is the federal agency that conducts research and makes recommendations for preventing work-related injuries, illnesses, and deaths. For more information about NIOSH visit www.cdc.gov/niosh/.

Page last reviewed: April 5, 2016