WHO South-East Asia Journal of Public Health
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Year : 2017  |  Volume : 6  |  Issue : 2  |  Page : 15-21

Climate conditions, workplace heat and occupational health in South-East Asia in the context of climate change

1 Australian National University, Canberra, Australia
2 Nelson-Marlborough Institute of Technology, Nelson, New Zealand

Correspondence Address:
Tord Kjellstrom
Australian National University, Canberra
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/2224-3151.213786

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Occupational health is particularly affected by high heat exposures in workplaces, which will be an increasing problem as climate change progresses. People working in jobs of moderate or heavy work intensity in hot environments are at particular risk, owing to exposure to high environmental heat and internal heat production. This heat needs to be released to protect health, and such release is difficult or impossible at high temperatures and high air humidity. A range of clinical health effects can occur, and the heat-related physical exhaustion leads to a reduction of work capacity and labour productivity, which may cause substantial economic losses. Current trends in countries of the World Health Organization South-East Asia Region are towards higher ambient heat levels during large parts of each year, and modelling indicates continuing trends, which will particularly affect low-income individuals and communities. Prevention activities need to address the climate policies of each country, and to apply currently available heat-reducing technologies in workplaces whenever possible. Work activities can be adjusted to reduce exposure to daily heat peaks or seasonal heat concerns. Application of basic occupational health principles, such as supply of drinking water, enforcement of rest periods and training of workers and supervisors, is essential.

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