UCLA study shows correlation between hot weather and workplace injuries

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KERO) – Residents around the world are dealing with the scorching days of summer – some more than others.

People in more populated urbanized areas live in “heat islands”.

“The typical definition is local air temperatures that are warmer due to the built environment,” Assoc said. Professor at Arizona State University Paul Coseo.

Asphalt, concrete and steel absorb and re-radiate much more heat than plants. This is why cities can get so hot compared to rural areas.

For example – last year the average temperatures in Bakersfield and Fresno were 67.9 and 67.2 degrees respectively.
Both urban areas had a warmer trend compared to a more rural town like Hanford, where the average temperature was 64.9 degrees.

A UCLA study shows that increased heat leads to an increased risk of health impacts for urban workers when summer is in full swing.

The 2021 publication reviewed more than 11 million workers’ compensation claims in California. It shows a significant increase in hot weather and the risk of workplace accidents and injuries – regardless of whether employees are indoors or outdoors.

The study went on to say that on days with temperatures above 90 degrees there was a 6% to 9% increase in injury risk compared to days with temperatures in the 50s and 60s.
And – when the triple digits hit – the risk of injury has increased by 10-15%.

When it comes to working outdoors, experts say heat exposure can have a range of physical impacts, noting a slight increase in injury directly related to high temperatures.

“We’ve started to see in other parts of the world, but now also here, what we think is heat-associated kidney disease,” said Dr Perry Sheffield from the Department of Environmental Medicine, Public Health and pediatrics from the ICAhn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai. . “And we think repeated dehydration events play a role in kidney damage.”

As for the cost of heat-related injuries, data shows that this figure could be between $750 million and $1.25 billion per year in California when taking into account health costs, loss of wages and productivity and disability claims.

An expert from the Boston University School of Public Health encourages employers to consider these tips for their workers amid heat waves:
First – allow employees to take frequent breaks in hot weather.

And – have enough water on sight because dehydration affects a person’s physical abilities.

“They’re starting to have some symptoms of being injured on the job or being a little less able to carry heavy objects, which is another concern if they’re dehydrated or don’t have enough water,” said said Amruta Nori-Sarma, PhD, with the Department of Environmental Health at Boston University School of Public Health.

Additionally, Nori-Sarma recommends that employers provide adequate shade for outdoor workers.
And, she says, consider scheduling shifts to start earlier in the day — or split shifts between morning and evening to avoid heat spikes.

Those looking for more information can download a free app created by OSHA and the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, which sends alerts when hot days are forecast and shares tips for employers and workers when it comes to staying safe in the heat. .

About Jefferey G. Cannon

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