Impacts of Climate Change on Occupational Health and Safety

The effects of climate change are often discussed in terms of its impacts on
the environment and the general population. To date, the scientific community
has focused very little on its repercussions on occupational health and safety
(OHS), yet workers can be affected both directly and indirectly, notably by the
heat stress to which they may be exposed and by changes in the ecosystems that
form the basis of their economic activities.

The general objective of this study was to explore research topics reted to the
negative impact of climate change on occupational health and safety.

First, a review of the literature published between 2005 and 2010 was performed
by the Institut de recherche Robert-Sauvé en santé et en sécurité du travail
(IRSST). It highlighted five categories of hazards that could potentially have
direct or indirect impacts on OHS: heat waves, air pollutants, ultraviolet
radiation, extreme weather events, and communicable vector-borne and zoonotic
diseases. Another five conditions were also identified: changes in agricultural
and animal husbandry methods, changes in the fishing industry, disturbances of
the forest ecosystem, degradation of the built environment, and the emergence
of new "green” industries.

A consultation process was then initiated by forming a working group made up of
national and international experts and Québec stakeholders from agriculture,
construction, forestry, mining, municipal services, transportation, fishing,
wind power research, and public health.Two workshops were held in Montréal to
verified the credibility and completeness of information and identify research

Lastly, priority research topics were determined in two rounds of consultation
using the Delphi method. This resulted in a consensus on 12 priority research
topics pertinent to Québec, categorized according to the acquisition of
knowledge on hazards and target populations, epidemiological surveillance, and
the development of measures.

More information - Source: Institut de recherche Robert-Sauvé en santé et en sécurité du travail (IRSST)