How can new technology protect outdoor workers?

Cesar David Gonzalez does everything from house painting to carpentry. The 56-year-old self-employed lives in the San Fernando Valley, one of the hottest areas in Los Angeles. It works six or seven days a week even when the temperature is above 40°C and smoke from forest fires closes the air

However, you really feel the effect of heat while pouring concrete.

Typically, Mr. Gonzalez and his crew check the weather before takeoff to plan where they will stand based on the sun’s position.

In July and August, they start work at 07:00 an hour earlier than usual, and because they work in the shade, they move as often as possible.

However, it is difficult to dive into the shade while laying concrete, and to take a break even if there is one.

Sometimes, Mr. Gonzalez’s coworkers will feel so weak that they will have to sit in an air-conditioned car, and some will even feel the need to leave work early.

Mr. Gonzalez and his hard-working colleagues aren’t the only open-ended workers forced to adapt to Los Angeles’ scorching heat.

A man selling ice cream is walking his car through the park to rest in the shade. A recycling worker sets out with a torch before the sun has yet risen. A postal worker who travels more than 10 kilometers a day gratefully accepts cold drinks from residents.

Such adaptations to the workday are not only necessary, but can save lives. Heat can kill. Studies show that it reduces an employee’s ability to concentrate, leading to a significant increase in workplace injuries.

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How can new technology protect outdoor workers?:

Tired sleep is more likely to cause heat-related illness; and high temperatures can make it difficult to fall asleep. This can be a deadly combination for workers working on heavy machinery.

However, rising temperatures due to human-induced climate change are doing more harm to the economy than the health effects. Above 20-25 °C, each additional degree is associated with a reduction in mission efficiency of approximately 2%.

By 2030, the global value of low labor productivity due to heat is projected to reach 1.8 trillion pounds per year: West Africa will be particularly hard hit.

However, many continue to work on a history of heat tolerance due to lack of material needs, workplace pressure and unaware of the health effects of high temperatures.

Those who suffer the most from the rising temperatures, especially those working in the construction and agriculture sectors.

Undocumented agricultural workers paid per unit can be particularly vulnerable, with little shade and no opportunity to complain in difficult conditions.

Self-employed, informal workers, and those with zero-hour contracts may also feel they have no choice but to work around the clock.

Even the fittest people in the world are as sensitive as Olympic athletes caught in the heat and humidity of Tokyo’s oven.

Sometimes workers who manage to climb the career ladder may actually be at greater risk of thermal stress. This is environmental epidemiologist at the North Carolina Institute for Climate Studies, Dr. It is one of the studies conducted by Jennifer Runkle and her colleagues on outdoor studies.

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Dr Runkle explains: “This is because more educated workers typically hold management positions and spend a small portion of the work week outside.” “As a result, these workers are not fully accustomed to working outside in the heat and often have to do so only occasionally, which puts the group at higher risk.”

There are some easy benefits to reducing thermal stress. Optimizing working hours so employees don’t go out on the hottest days of the day can have the biggest impact on employee health.

In hot countries like Spain and Greece, there is already a culture of rest during the hottest hours of the day. The National Disaster Management Authority of India also recommended avoiding strenuous work between 12:00 and 15:00.

Individual, wearable sensors can be a useful tool for determining possible thermal voltage. Dr. Runkle believes this technology will be particularly useful in areas such as construction, mining and agriculture.

Dr. According to Runkle, early adoption of these devices will have a benefit to increase productivity and reduce injuries while “providing the health and safety of an aging workforce and eliminating the risk of thermal stress.”

Widespread adoption of wearable temperature sensors by employees, employers and healthcare providers will also help eliminate gaps in temperature difference.

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Credit@ BBC

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