UN: Warming Planet Kills Thousands of Workers On the Job Each Year

Apr 29, 2024

Climate Change Risks for Outdoor Activities

Severe heat triggered by climate change is killing thousands of workers around the world every year. It's also hurting tens of millions more. That's according to a report released last week by The International Labor Organization (ILO). That's a part of the UN. 

The ILO also warned that 7 of 10 workers worldwide will likely face some extreme heat in their lifetimes. Extreme heat is defined as a period of at least two days of 90 degree Fahrenheit (°F) temps with high humidity. The ILO says extreme heat kills nearly 19,000 workers a year. It also results in on-the-job injuries for nearly 23 million others, the report stated.  

The ILO said rising temps will likely force those numbers to go up. They will also reduce worker productivity if more is not done to protect those who work outside. Wildfire fighters battling rising numbers of blazes due to higher heat and dry weather are at some of the highest risk. Such workers are also exposed to UV radiation and air pollution. Both can also cause severe health problems.     

Manal Azzi said it's clear that climate change is creating health hazards for workers. She is an ILO team leader. “It is essential that we heed these warnings.”  

Seven states have passed laws to protect workers from extreme heat. Those include California, Colorado, Maryland, Minnesota, Nevada, Oregon, and Washington. But Texas and Florida have banned local governments from passing these kinds of laws. Some say local rules aren't needed. They say federal labor laws protect workers from poor conditions on the job.      

Reflect: Imagine you’re in charge of a construction crew that works outside all day. What safety measures would you put in place on especially hot days?

Which of the following details is included in the infographic, but NOT the article? (Common Core RI.5.7; RI.6.7)
a. Extreme heat kills nearly 19,000 workers per year.
b. UV radiation kills nearly 19,000 workers per year.
c. Extreme heat is defined as a period of at least two days above 90 degree Fahrenheit (°F) with high humidity.
d. Exposure to air pollution can cause serious health problems.
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