Experts gathered at a conference in Qatar have warned that rising temperatures pose a threat to the lives and health of millions of workers who work in extreme heat conditions. According to specialists, tens of thousands of workers worldwide have died in recent decades due to chronic kidney disease and other heat-related illnesses. Science indicates that all states can do more to combat this phenomenon, says Ruba Jaradat, Director of the International Labor Organization (ILO) for Arab countries. The conference focuses on heat stress in the workplace.
Researchers claim that extreme heat and solar radiation cause heatstroke, kidney, heart, and lung diseases, increasing cancer rates. About 1 billion agricultural workers and tens of millions of outdoor workers are affected. Construction workers are also particularly vulnerable to kidney, heart, and skin cancer due to exposure to ultraviolet radiation.
Although the government of Qatar has banned outdoor work during peak heat hours, experts and NGOs say the country could do more to protect workers. Internationally, there is still no standard to address this problem, despite concerns about climate change. In the US, the administration promised new guidelines in 2021 after a heatwave that it said was “the leading cause of climate-related deaths in the country.” In Europe, except for Cyprus, which limits working hours and requires extra breaks and protective clothing when temperatures exceed 35°C, no concrete measures have been taken.
However, there are solutions. Cooperation between La Isla Network and Central American sugar companies showed that workers cut 4.75 tons of sugarcane in nine hours. This figure increases to 6.2 in just four hours with better breaks, shade, and water, according to expert recommendations. In Asia, hundreds of thousands of Indian salt workers suffer from high rates of kidney disease, and in the summer, about 80% of them suffer from heat-related illnesses.
Leave a Reply