0412 Climate change impacts on occupational health via workplace heat

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Abstract

Climate changes will markedly affect working people as increased heat and extreme weather may directly affect health and indirectly via reduced food access and spread of vector-borne diseases among outdoor workers. The effects will primarily affect low income people in tropical and sub-tropical areas, but occupational health authorities in all countries need to consider the emerging challenges. A recent EU project (http://www.HEAT-SHIELD.eu) is dedicated to improving heat resilience in workers, and NIOSH/USA recently (2016) published new guidelines.

Considering the theme Eliminating Occupational Disease, a widespread occupational health threat from climate change will be excessive heat exposure causing ”workplace heat related illnesses”. This is already a major problem in large parts of the world. A number of aspects of the occupational health challenges will be presented during this Mini-Symposium.

Translating research into action involves broadening existing research/analysis to produce improved ”heat exposure evaluation” and ”occupational health impact assessment” related to climate change. Research needs to identify remediable conditions and solutions/interventions. This requires a major increase in occupational epidemiology studies (including intervention studies), focusing on hot parts of the world. The detrimental health and economic impacts should encourage global and national policies to address climate change mitigation.

The Mini-Symposium will consider how to address these needs, and encourage networking among scientists in different fields for future studies. It also aims to engage young scientists in a field which has been overlooked in climate change impact analysis. The HEAT-SHIELD project welcomes cooperation in specific studies and sharing of methodologies.

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