'Staggering' Number Of Workers Facing Climate Change-Induced Health Hazards: UN

(MENAFN- Nam News Network)

GENEVA, April 23 (NNN-AGENCIES) - A large majority of workers worldwide are facing a cocktail of health hazards linked to climate change, the UN said, warning that existing regulations were not equipped to offer adequate protection.

“A staggering number of workers are already being exposed to climate change-related hazards in the workplace, and these figures are only likely to get worse,” the United Nations' International Labour Organization said in a report.

Agricultural workers and others who carry out heavy labour in hot climates especially“may be exposed to a cocktail of hazards”, it said, including excessive heat, UV radiation, air pollution, vector-borne diseases and agrochemicals.

Those working in hot indoor environments or poorly ventilated spaces were also at risk.

“Workers are among those most exposed to climate change hazards yet frequently have no choice but to continue working, even if conditions are dangerous,” the report said.

It pointed out that in 2020 - the last year for which statistics are available - 2.4 billion workers, or more than 70 percent of the global workforce, were estimated to be exposed to excessive heat at some point.

That was up from 65.5 percent two decades earlier, it said.

Nearly 23 million occupational injuries attributed to excessive heat are reported each year, costing an estimated nearly 19,000 lives annually.

And those numbers, do not include the more than 26 million people who live with chronic kidney disease linked to workplace heat stress.

It noted that numerous dangerous health conditions in workers had been linked to climate change, including cancer, cardiovascular disease, respiratory illnesses, kidney disfunction and mental health conditions.

ILO said 1.6 billion workers worldwide were estimated to be exposed to UV radiation each year, with more than 18,960 work-related deaths annually from non-melanoma skin cancer.

Another 1.6 billion people were likely exposed to workplace pollution, resulting in up to 860,000 deaths among outdoor workers annually.

More than 870 million agricultural workers are meanwhile likely exposed to pesticides, with more than 300,000 deaths attributed to pesticide poisoning each year.

And 15,000 work-related deaths each year are attributed to exposure to parasitic and vector-borne diseases, the report said.

“It's clear that climate change is already creating significant additional health hazards for workers,” Manal Azzi, head of the ILO's occupational safety and health team, said.

“It is essential that we heed these warnings. Occupational safety and health considerations must be become part of our climate change responses - both policies and actions.”

The ILO said climate change hazards could require countries to re-evaluate existing legislation or create new regulations to protect workers properly. - NNN-AGENCIES


Nam News Network

Legal Disclaimer:
MENAFN provides the information “as is” without warranty of any kind. We do not accept any responsibility or liability for the accuracy, content, images, videos, licenses, completeness, legality, or reliability of the information contained in this article. If you have any complaints or copyright issues related to this article, kindly contact the provider above.