Now Reading
Workers Are Increasingly at Risk From Climate Change – ILO Report

Workers Are Increasingly at Risk From Climate Change – ILO Report

More than 70% of the global workforce is exposed to risks linked to climate change that cause hundreds of thousands of deaths every year, the International Labour Organisation (ILO) said on Monday 22 April, adding that governments will have to act as the numbers rise.

Workers, especially the world’s poorest, are more vulnerable than the general population to the dangers of extreme weather events such as heatwaves, droughts, forest fires and hurricanes, because they are often the first to be exposed, or exposed for longer periods and with greater intensity.

As climate change accelerates, governments and employers are endeavouring to protect workers, says the ILO in a report.

“An impressive number of workers are already being exposed to climate change-related risks in the workplace and these numbers are only likely to get worse,” the report entitled “Ensuring safety and health at work in a changing climate” states in its conclusions.

“As (the risks) evolve and intensify, it will be necessary to re-evaluate existing legislation or create new regulations and guidelines.”

Some countries have improved the protection of workers from the heat, such as Qatar, whose policies have come under scrutiny ahead of the 2022 Football World Cup.

However, rules governing other dangers, such as the increasing use of pesticides by agricultural workers, are less common.

“We have some (countries) that already limit exposure to high temperatures and also exposure to air pollution, but we rarely have occupational exposure limits set for the other hazards,” said Manal Azzi, the ILO’s senior occupational safety and health specialist.

The percentage of workers exposed to the most common hazard, rising temperatures, has increased by around 5 percentage points in the last two decades, reaching 70.9 per cent, according to the report,

According to the report, other climate hazards often coexist, creating a “cocktail of risks”, with UV radiation and air pollution each affecting 1.6 billion people.

Since a worker is likely to be exposed to several hazards at the same time, an ILO spokesperson said it was impossible to calculate exactly which part of the world’s 3.4 billion workers were at risk.

Climate-related risks are associated with cancer, kidney dysfunction and respiratory diseases, which lead to death or debilitating chronic illnesses or disabilities.

Air pollution is the deadliest risk, causing around 860,000 work-related deaths annually among outdoor workers, according to the ILO report. Excessive heat causes 18,970 occupational deaths a year and UV radiation kills 18,960 from non-melanoma skin cancer, according to the report.

“The greatest impacts will be felt by the working poor, those working in the informal economy, seasonal workers and workers in micro and small enterprises,” says the report.

In some cases, the very technologies designed to slow down climate change, such as solar panels and lithium-ion batteries for electric vehicles, could end up producing new dangers, as they contain toxic chemicals, the report says.

The ILO plans to hold a major meeting in 2025 with representatives of governments, employers and workers to provide political guidance on climate risks.



Scroll To Top

We have detected that you are using AdBlock Plus or other adblocking software which is causing you to not be able to view 360 Mozambique in its entirety.

Please add to your adblocker’s whitelist or disable it by refreshing afterwards so you can view the site.