‘Nigeria loses 10% of working hours due to rising heat’
A new report released yesterday said that Nigeria and other emerging economies are facing as much as 10 per cent losses in working hours because of deteriorating thermal conditions in the workplace due to climate change.
The estimated losses imply adverse consequences of a similar scale to economic output, or GDP, for a wide range of developing countries, including India, Indonesia and Nigeria, as highlighted by the report.
According to the report, “when it is too hot, people work less effectively out-of-doors, in factories, the office or on the move due to diminished ability for physical exertion and for completing mental tasks.
“Governments and international organizations have long put in place standards on thermal conditions in the workplace. But climate change has already altered thermal conditions,” and “additional warming is a serious challenge for any worker or employer reliant on outdoor or non-air conditioned work.” Levels of heat are already “very high” even for acclimatized populations, it noted.
Speaking at the report’s launch, ITUC General Secretary, Sharan Burrow, said: “A rise in temperature risks the health of workers and the productivity in work environments where the heat is debilitating – climate action is urgent to protect workers now and in the future. Climate change is real, and action to halt its devastating impact is in our hands.”
According to General Secretary of UNI Global Union, Philip Jennings “workers who are being exposed to extreme heat need to have access to a cooling environment, shade, water, protective clothing and enough time for rest breaks. This is particularly true for people who do physical work, for example out in the fields, mines and factories. Governments, and employers have to take this issue of the cauldron of a warming planet seriously and develop some effective policy responses and practical measures to protect workers. We know the challenges and we know what needs to be done to make it happen.”
For Maria Luisa Silva, UNDP Geneva Director “We embarked on this report to give recognition to this specific and serious concern, and to begin the conversation on how to respond and deal with it. The challenges have to be addressed by governments, employers, employees and other relevant international organizations if we want to be able to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by 2030.”
The release marked International Workers’ Memorial Day, with the report calling excessive workplace heat a well-known occupational health and productivity danger behind growing risks of heat exhaustion, heat stroke and, “in extreme cases,” death.
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