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Bad climate Hot, cold, wet and wild. The weather is getting more unpredictable and more extreme. Rory O'Neill looks at the new risks emerging as a result of the climate crisis which have seen emergency preparedness become an essential part of a workplace safety policy.Hazards 165, January-March 2024

Dying jobs It was unions that popularised the phrase ‘there are no jobs on a dead planet’. They know the climate crisis can’t be ignored. Hazards editor Rory O’Neill looks at ways to move to green jobs, without swapping the deadly effects of pollution for those resulting from industrial desolation. Hazards 164, October-December 2023

Biohazards! From natural fibres to furry critters, creepy crawlies to coronavirus, biological hazards in the workplace are a major and seriously under-estimated problem. Hazards editor Rory O’Neill says unions need to be vigilant for the infections, lung diseases, cancers and other related conditions that see half a million workers worldwide die each year. Hazards 164, October-December 2023

Boiling point It is heating up out there. Make sure your workplace takes the necessary measures to make work safe when temperatures rise at work. And Hazards says don’t sweat it next year. Start negotiating now to make sure comprehensive protections are in place before a heatwave strikes. Hazards 162, April-June 2023.

When it pours… When floods hit, workers step up. But whether they are baling out or just wading in to work, they face potentially deadly risks that can only be minimised with preparation, protection and resources. Hazards says don’t wait for the next deluge – get a disaster recovery plan in place now. Hazards special online report, March 2014.

We are better than dirt Jobs producing CFCs are off into the stratosphere. But for workers in polluting industries, it's not all bad - unions have a plan to ensure it's the problem and not the workforce that is dumped. Hazards 72, 15 November 2000

Just transition Protecting jobs, workers and the environment Industrial countries must undergo a total policy re-think to protect workers' safety, jobs and the environment, a top US trade union leader has urged. OCAW president Robert E Wages warns that global trade is reducing jobs and environmental standards.
Hazards 63, page 17, July-September 1998

Protecting jobs and the environment So asbestos has to go, PVC is too damaging to the environment and CFCs must no longer wreck ozone layer. Maybe, says OCAW’s Robert E Wages,  but there should be a Just Transition to protects the environment, jobs and communities.
Workers' Health International Newsletter, Issue 54, July - December 1998 [pdf]



Hazards’ just transition archive pages

TUC’s Eight steps to keep cool, video and interactive guide, Too hot, too cold.

TUC guides: TUC guide to working in extreme temperatures and Health and safety in the aftermath of flooding.

International Conference on Occupational Heat Stress: “Implementation of Practices, Sharing of Experiences”, Conclusions and recommendations, ILO, May 2023

Working on a warmer planet: The effect of heat stress on productivity and decent work, ILO Report, July 2019.

Call to Action: Heat Up Workers' Rights, not the Planet!, BWI campaign.

Heat at work – Guidance for workplaces, EU-OSHA, May 2023.
The climate crisis: Extreme health and health, NRDC video, 2019.

Outdoor and indoor workers demand protections to beat the heat! NYCOSH, 2023.

Working on a warmer planet: The impact of heat stress on labour productivity and decent work, ILO, July 2019.

HSE temperature at work webpages and guides:  Temperature: employees guide; Temperature: What the Law says; Temperature: Outdoor working.

Claudia Narocki. Heatwaves as an occupational hazard: The impact of heat and heatwaves on workers’ health, safety and wellbeing and on social inequalities, June 2021 report, ETUI.

ETUC Resolution on the Need for EU Action to Protect Workers from High Temperatures, May 2019.

Muhammad Hidayat Greenfield. An urgent need to reassess climate change and child labour in agriculture, The Lancet Planetary Health, first published online 18 May 2022.
Hot Take: The Demand For Immediate Worker Protections Increases As Dangerous Temperatures Rise, Public Citizen, May 2023.

California Standard §3396. Heat Illness Prevention in Indoor Places of Employment.

Recommended Heat Standard: Occupational Exposure to Heat and Hot Environments, National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2016. 

Heat Injury and Illness Prevention in Outdoor and Indoor Work Settings Rulemaking, OSHA.

OSHA heat illness prevention campaign.

Luke A Parsons and others. Global Labor Loss Due to Humid Heat Exposure Underestimated for Outdoor Workers, Environmental Research Letters, volume 17, number 1, 014050, 2022.

Heatwaves: adapting to climate change, Environmental Audit Committee, UK Government, 26 July 2018.

Xiuwen Sue Dong and others. Heat‐related deaths among construction workers in the United States, American Journal of Industrial Medicine, First published online 22 July 2019. CPWR research summary.



USA: Biden unveils rules to protect millions of US workers from extreme heat
The Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is proposing the first federal safety standard to address excessive workplace heat. The rule would would impact 36 million workers and includes identifying heat hazards, developing response plans, providing training, and implementing work practices like rest breaks, shade, water and acclimatisation for new employees. AFL-CIO president Liz Shuler applauded the move: “As we enter the second summer with temperatures reaching scorching record highs, the Biden administration’s new proposed rule could not be more urgently needed."
White House Briefing, AFL-CIO news release, 2 July 2024

Southern Africa: Unions push for climate justice and safe workplaces
Southern African unions from ZCATWU and CLAWUZ (Zimbabwe), MANWU (Namibia), NUBEGW (Zambia), NUM and BCAWU (South Africa), CMWEU (Mauritius) and SINTICIM (Mozambique).are advocating for climate justice and safer workplaces.They highlighted the disproportionate impact of climate change on vulnerable workers and communities. and called for policies that address environmental issues while ensuring job security and fair labor practices.
BWI news release, 22 June 2024

Britain: BFAWU calls for COVID style worker furlough scheme in extreme heat
At their annual conference, bakers' union members called for a COVID-style furlough scheme to support workers during extreme heat events. They also demanded legal limits on workplace temperatures. BFAWU president Ian Hodson criticised employers that force staff to take leave without pay during hot spells.
Morning Star, 10 June 2024

Britain: Soldier's heatstroke death was avoidable
A soldier who died from exertional heatstroke may have survived if he had been treated earlier, a  Defence Safety Authority (DSA) report has concluded. Sapper Connor Morrison, 20, of 23 Parachute Engineer Regiment stationed in Woodbridge, Suffolk, collapsed during a group run on 21 July 2022.
BBC News Online, 2 March 2024.

Canada: Union in compensation call for forest firefighters
A firefighters’ union has slammed Ontario’s Ford government for its ‘complete disregard’ for forest firefighters’ health and safety as the 2024 fire season looms. OPSEU/SEFPO President JP Hornick criticised a ‘shameful’ compensation anomaly meant forest firefighters “must jump through hoops to prove a strong causal link between their exposure and diagnosis – all while managing a serious illness.”
OPSEU SEFPO news release, 26 February 2024

Britain: Climate crisis hitting farm mental health
Farms are suffering record levels of mental health problems due to droughts, floods, heatwaves, excessive working hours and other problems, research has found. According to a study by the Farm Safety Foundation, 95 per cent of Britain’s farmers under the age of 40 rank poor mental health as one of the biggest hidden difficulties facing farmers today.
Farm Safety Foundation news releaseMorning Star. 12 February 2024

Britain: Don’t force staff to make dangerous journeys to work in the snow, says TUC
With the Met Office issuing a yellow warning for snow in much of north Wales and northern and central England. the TUC has called on employers not to force their staff to take any risks by making dangerous journeys to work.  The TUC suggests that all employers have clear weather policies to set out what staff should do when snow and ice, or a lack of public transport, prevents them getting to work, and is reminding employers to keep their workplaces safe during the cold weather.  
TUC News release. 7 February 2024.

Britain: Heatwave plan urgently needed to save lives, say MPs
The UK urgently needs a plan to prevent thousands of heatwave deaths a year as the climate continues to warm, a cross-party committee of MPs has warned. More than 4,500 people died in heatwaves in 2022, the MPs’ report said, and this number could rise to 10,000 a year by 2050 without action. Heatwaves are “silent killers”, the Environmental Audit Committee (EAC) said, pushing up heart rate and blood pressure, with those over 65 and with existing health problems most at risk.
The Guardian. 31 January 2024

USA: Heat stroke death leads to small fine and much anger
On June 20, 2023, postal worker Eugene Gates succumbed to heat stroke while delivering mail in Lakewood, Texas, amidst a scorching summer heatwave with temperatures hitting 98 degrees. The heat index soared over 113 degrees due to high humidity. Gates wasn't alone. OSHA estimates 121 heat-related worker fatalities from 2017 to 2022, likely undercounted due to resembling "natural cause" deaths. Bureau of Labor Statistics note nearly 34,000 work-related heat injuries and illnesses (2011-2020), these are self-reported by employers suggesting a significant undercount. OSHA issued a $15,625 citation against the United States Postal Service in response to the death of Gates. OSHA doesn’t have a heat standard to protect workers so it used the General Duty Clause which simply requires employers to provide a safe workplace. Gates’ wife was not pleased with the size of the penalty. “I was mad. I was hurt. I was disappointed"
Confined Space, 9 January 2024

Brtain: Overheated workers ‘should get day off’
A report by the Fabian Society recommends the UK government introduce a law mandating a day off for workers if indoor temperatures exceed 30°C, or 27°C during strenuous work. The report highlights the increasing health risks from extreme heat, citing over 4,500 heat-related deaths in England in 2022 and a significant rise in annual flood damage costs. It emphasises the disproportionate impact on low-paid workers who often lack access to cooling measures and protective equipment.
Whatever the weather: A progressive strategy for climate resilience and adaptation, Fabian Society, December 2023. www.fabians.org.uk. 2 January 2024

Italy: Furlough plan misses many heatwave workers
Italy’s main union CGIL says special government measures proposed to help construction and agricultural firms keep staff at home during an intense summer heatwave do not go far enough.  "Nothing is provided to help people working for delivery firms or seasonal workers, or other categories of employees," it said in a statement.
Yahoo! News, 25 July 2023

Britain: Governments must heed wildfire warning
Britain’s governments must heed the ‘stark warning’ provided by a Scottish wildfire visible from space, firefighters’ union FBU has said. FBU general secretary Matt Wrack said: “We need urgent climate action to prevent loss of life, and that must also involve serious investment in our fire services.”
FBU news release. 7 June 2023

USA: Climate change requires new work safety rights
With the climate crisis accelerating, workers in every state will increasingly face natural dangers in the workplace, a new report from the US National Employment Law Project has warned. It argues workers will increasingly need to exercise their right to refuse dangerous work, but this right needs strengthening to make it effective.
The Right to Refuse Unsafe Work in an Era of Climate Change, NELP, 27 March 2023. 5 April 2023

Global: Extreme heat linked to kidney disease in workers
Evidence of a deadly link between exposure to extreme heat and chronic kidney disease is emerging. As the world grows hotter and climate change ushers in more frequent and extreme heat waves, public health experts fear kidney disease cases will soar among laborers who have no choice but to work outdoors.
Washington Post 18 January 2023

USA: Extreme weather a threat to essential workers
As storms hit vast parts of the US over the Christmas holiday, outdoor workers warned they are facing unacceptable risk from extreme weather. Having suffered through a summer of blistering heat, essential workers now face an even more dangerous foe in the cold.
The Guardian. US NIOSH cold stress guide. HSE temperature in the workplace webpages. 10 January 2023

Britain: You shouldn’t be cold at work
Employers are being reminded of their legal responsibilities to keep workers safe as cold weather continues to affect large parts of the country. The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) is stressing the importance of protecting workers during the cold weather.
HSE news release and temperature in the workplace webpages. Usdaw guide on low temperatures. 14 December 2022

Global: Working in extreme heat bad for fetus
Heat stress can adversely affect the fetuses of women working in extreme temperatures, according to new research. The study, from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (LSHTM), looked at 92 farmers working in rice fields in The Gambia and suggests that for every extra degree Celsius in extreme heat stress, there was a 17 per cent increase in fetal strain.
LSHTM news release. Ana Bonell and others. Environmental heat stress on maternal physiology and fetal blood flow in pregnant subsistence farmers in The Gambia, west Africa: an observational cohort study, The Lancet Planetary Health, volume 6, issue 12, e968-e976, 1 December 2022. BBC News Online. 14 December 2022

Britain: Freezing DVLA staff told to wear more clothes
The Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) has been accused of ‘recklessly’ telling staff to work in its Swansea HQ after the central heating broke. Laura Bee, an industrial officer with the civil service union PCS, said there was no hot water in toilets and workers were told to wear more clothes, adding temperatures dropped below 11 Celsius in the building, which was “not safe” for workers.
BBC News Online. 30 November 2022

Britain: NHS England workforce to get menopause rights
Menopausal women working in NHS England will be able to work flexibly should they need to under new guidance. The guidance aims to boost awareness as well as support the introduction of practical measures and flexible working patterns – including lighter duties, fans to make temperatures more comfortable, cooler uniforms and staff training.
Supporting our NHS people through menopause: guidance for line managers and colleagues, NHS England, 22 November 2022. The Telegraph. The Guardian. 23 November 2022

Britain: Climate and safety complacency a threat to firefighting
A “horrible complacency” about the impact of the climate emergency on the fire service has left it under-funded and ill-prepared, the general secretary of the firefighters’ union FBU has warned. Matt Wrack said: “It has become a case of what else can we do when they ignore us on staffing levels, ignore us on PPE equipment and then they ignore us on pay as well,” he said.
FBU news release. The Guardian. Risks 1061. 29 September 2022

Britain: Employers told to prepare for a warmer future
Employers need to act now to make sure their workplaces are ready for warmer weather in the future, the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has said. The safety regulator said it is asking employers to ensure extreme heat becomes part of their long-term planning, adding heat is classed as a hazard and comes with legal obligations like any other hazard.
HSE news release and temperature at work webpages.
TUC too hot, too cold digital guidebook. Risks 1056. 16 August 2022

USA: UPS drivers push for safety as temperatures soar
Drivers with the US Postal Service (UPS) are wilting under the pressure of making hundreds of stops a day in sweltering conditions, as the company makes record profits. Now the workers, represented by the Teamsters union, are pushing for air conditioning in vehicles and better protections on the job.
The Guardian. Risks 1056. 16 August 2022

Britain: TUC calls on employers to keep staff safe in the heatwave
With the UK facing a fresh heatwave, the TUC has repeated its call on employers to make sure their staff are protected from the sun and heat. The union body is calling on government to improve protections for workers by bringing in rules on maximum working temperatures.
TUC digital guidebook, Too hot, too cold digital guidebook. Risks 1055. 9 August 2022

Britain: ASLEF drives better train cab design
A ‘Better cab design’ campaign by train drivers’ union ASLEF has seen better, safer cabs introduced on London Underground’s new Elizabeth Line. A union survey confirmed a good quality cab needs to be “clean, adjustable and able to be temperature controlled.”
ASLEF news release, report and Better Driving Cabs campaign. 26 July 2022

Europe: Climate crisis requires temperature controls
Another summer of deadly heatwaves shows why Europe badly needs a law on maximum working temperatures to protect workers from the effects of climate change, the European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC) has said. ETUC deputy general secretary Claes-Mikael Ståhl said: “Politicians can’t continue to ignore the danger to our most vulnerable workers from the comfort of their airconditioned offices.”
ETUC news release. ETUC Resolution on the Need for EU Action to Protect Workers from High Temperatures. ETUI report on Heatwaves as an Occupational Hazard. ABC News. 26 July 2022

Britain: Employers must provide protection from extreme heat
With the Met Office issuing its first ‘Red Extreme’ heat warning for parts of the UK this week, the TUC has calling on bosses to make sure that any staff working outdoors are protected from the sun and the heat. The union body says workers are entitled to remain away from the workplace if – in their opinion – the prevailing circumstances represent a real risk of serious and imminent danger which they could not be expected to avert.
TUC news release and TUC learning tool, Too hot, too cold - Too hot, too cold.
Sign the TUC petition for a maximum working temperature. Risks 1052. 19 July 2022

Britain: Unions demand extra protection from the heat
Unions have reiterated TUC calls the protection of workers from excessive heat. Lynsey Mann, the GMB's health and safety officer, said: “Bosses need to do everything possible to keep workplaces cool and, more importantly, safe,”  and Unite national health and safety adviser Rob Miguel said: “Unite is pressing for a maximum temperature for safe working of 27 degrees Celsius for strenuous jobs and 30 degrees Celsius for sedentary jobs, and a trigger of 24 degrees Celsius where action should be taken to reduce temperatures indoors and strict protection measures put in place for outdoor workers.”
GMB news release. Unite news release. BBC News Online. Usdaw news release and Keep your cool leaflet. Risks 1052. 19 July 2022

Britain: PCS calls on British Museum to put safety first
Civil service union PCS is calling on the British Museum to put staff and public safety first when the temperature soars. The union was speaking out after the museum refused to consider closing during the period covered by the 'Red extreme' heat national severe weather warning, despite high indoor temperatures and poor indoor air quality.
PCS news release. Risks 1052. 19 July 2022

Britain: Keep staff safe as temperatures soar
The TUC is urging employers to make sure their staff are protected from the sun and heat after the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) issued a heat-health alert. The union body wants a change in the law so that employers must attempt to reduce temperatures if they get above 24 degrees Celsius and workers feel uncomfortable. And employers should be obliged to provide sun protection and water. It would also like ministers to introduce a new absolute maximum indoor temperature, set at 30 degrees C (or 27 degrees C for those doing strenuous jobs), to indicate when work should stop. Working in hot weather can lead to dehydration, muscle cramps, rashes, fainting, and – in the most extreme cases – loss of consciousness and death. Outdoor workers are three times more likely to develop skin cancer.
TUC news release and TUC learning tool, Too hot, too cold - Too hot, too cold. Bectu news release. Fortune Magazine.
Sign the petition for a maximum working temperature. 13 July 2022

Global: Twin climate and child labour perils in agriculture
There is a need for urgent action to address the twin perils in agriculture of climate change and child labour, an expert has warned. Writing in The Lancet Planetary Health, Hidayat Greenfield, the regional secretary of the global food and farming union federation IUF, concluded: “It is well understood that both child labour and climate change are complex, multi-layered issues… it is equally well understood that complexity should not justify inaction.”
Muhammad Hidayat Greenfield. An urgent need to reassess climate change and child labour in agriculture, The Lancet Planetary Health, first published online 18 May 2022. ITUC news release. 26 May 2022

Britain: City Hall gets ‘world-leading’ menopause policy
The Mayor of London has announced new support for City Hall workers going through the menopause. Sadiq Khan said the ‘world-leading’ policy aims to ensure the working environment is comfortable wherever possible, including the possibility of temperature-controlled areas; other measures include allowing for flexible adjustments in the working day, for example taking breaks for severe symptoms or time off to attend medical appointments.
UNISON news release and menopause resources. Mayor of London news release.
Resources: TUC menopause at work interactive guide and Supporting working women through the menopause: guidance for union representatives. Risks 1036. 16 March 2022

Britain: UK not ready for climate change emergencies
The firefighters’ union FBU has warned the UK’s emergency response is not capable of dealing with the extreme weather the country could face as a result of climate change. The union was commenting after the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) warned that Europe will face increasingly severe climate impacts, including in terms of heatwaves and flooding, unless action is taken to reduce global greenhouse gas emissions.
FBU news release and climate change campaign. IPCC report. Risks 1035. 9 March 2022

USA: Climate weather crisis hurts the low paid
Extreme weather events are hitting lower paid, vulnerable workers hardest, a doctors’ network has said. The US Migrant Clinicians Network said tornado-related fatalities in the destruction of the Mayfield Consumer Products candle factory in Kentucky, in which at least eight workers died, and the Illonois Amazon warehouse where six were killed, “has shone a spotlight on the inadequacies of worker protections as the climate crisis ramps up.”
MCN blog. The Guardian. NPR. Risks 1026. 15 December 2021

Global: ‘What about the Workers?, COP26 people’s summit, 8 November
Climate change is already having a major impact on the hazards many face at work – from flooding, to temperature extremes to the spread of disease. A people’s summit online event at the COP26 meeting on 8 November will examine ‘What about the workers? Making workplaces safe for workers and the environment.’
What about the workers? Making workplaces safe for workers and the environment, Hazards Campaign/Scottish Hazards, free and online, 6.30-8.00pm, 8 November. Register. Risks 1020. 4 November 2021

USA: New rules plan for work heat dangers
The Biden administration is to introduce the USA’s first ever labour standard aimed at protecting workers from extreme heat, as part of a growing recognition of the dangers posed by warming temperatures caused by climate change. The federal safety regulator, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), will draft its first rule governing heat exposure designed to protect those who work outdoors in agricultural, construction and delivery services as well as workers in warehouses, factories, and kitchens.
Statement by President Biden and Factsheet: Biden Administration Mobilizes to Protect Workers and Communities from Extreme Heat , 20 September 2021. OSHA news release and heat illness prevention campaign. National COSH news release. New York Times. Risks 1016. 29 September 2021

Britain: Unite demands heat distress audit on buses
Mayor of London Sadiq Khan and Transport for London (TfL) must institute an independent audit of air conditioning systems for all London buses, the union Unite has said. The call came after many drivers in the capital raised concerns about the air conditioning in their cabs not working, or being inadequate during the recent hot weather, resulting in sweltering temperatures and fears that drivers could become so fatigued by the heat it could impinge on road safety.
Unite news release. Risks 1007, 29 July 2021

Britain: Keep staff safe as temperatures soar, say unions
Employers must make sure their staff are protected from the sun and heat as temperatures soar this week, the TUC has said. The demand from the union body came as the Met Office issued one of its new-style extreme amber heat weather warnings for the first time.
TUC news release. TUC guide to getting organised for safer, cooler working conditions Sign the TUC petition for a maximum working temperature. PCS news release. ASLEF news release. Morning Star. Risks 1006. 22 July 2021

Britain: Cold, hard work and poor pay are a deadly combination
Working environments in slaughterhouses and meat packing plants are conducive to coronavirus transmission because of low temperatures, low air exchange rates, air recirculation and other poor elements of job design, UK experts have concluded. A team from St Johns Institute of Dermatology, Guy’s Hospital, in an editorial in the journal Occupational Medicine, call for action to protect workers, noting: “In addition to standard control measures to prevent the transmission of communicable diseases in the workplace, that include education, early identification and quarantine, employers should implement additional interventions to protect against the cold.”
Louise Cunningham, Paul J Nicholson, Jane O’Connor, John P McFadden. Cold working environments as an occupational risk factor for COVID-19, Occupational Medicine, kqaa195, Published: 28 November 2020. https://doi.org/10.1093/occmed/kqaa195. Risks 976. 2 December 2020

Britain: UK not ready for two national emergencies at once
Fire and rescue services won’t be prepared to deal with major threats to the UK without more firefighters, the firefighters’ union FBU has warned. The union said the combined threats of climate change related events, terrorism, and the post-Grenfell building safety crisis will require the immediate funding for at least 5,000 firefighters in the next year, to ensure the fire and rescue service can tackle “the risks of today and tomorrow”.
FBU news release. Risks 972. 7 November 2020

Britain: Don’t let workers get overheated, warned TUC
Employers must ensure staff are protected from the sun and heat, the TUC has said. Commenting after temperatures in parts of the UK soared, the union body warned working in hot weather can lead to dehydration, tiredness, muscle cramps, rashes, fainting, and – in extreme cases – loss of consciousness and death.
TUC news release, blog and guide on dealing with high temperatures in the workplace. Personnel Today.
Sign the TUC petition: Tell Thérèse Coffey, Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, we need a maximum working temperature. Risks 960. 15 August 2020

Britain: Action call on ‘extreme heat’ risk to crane drivers
The extreme heat of recent days could be putting crane drivers at risk, their union Unite has warned. The construction union is calling for immediate action to be taken to support the workforce, writing to the UK’s largest construction companies to seek assurances that safety measures are in place to ensure that tower crane operators are not being placed at risk due to high temperatures.
Unite news release. Construction Enquirer. HSE temperature guidance. Risks 960. 15 August 2020

TUC says workers shouldn’t be feeling the heat
More needs to be done to protect workers from the risks of working in extreme heat, the TUC has said. “Time in the sun can be enjoyable for many, but it also creates serious hazards at work,” warned TUC safety lead Shelly Asquith.
TUC blog and guides on dealing with high temperatures in the workplace and organising for health and safety at work. Risks 959. 8 August 2020

USA: Climate crisis puts workers at deadly heat risk
Though the climate crisis is creating conditions where workers in the US are facing hotter temperatures on a more frequent basis, there are no federal safety protections for workers in extreme temperatures, and only three states, California, Washington and Minnesota, have heat stress workplace protection standards. According to projections conducted by the not-for-profit organisation Climate Central, the number of dangerous heat days for 133 US cities, will increase from 20 a year on average in 2000 to 58 in 2050.
The Guardian. Risks 932. 1 February 2020

Britain: Winter safe work guide
As the clocks change and days get colder and darker, trade union personal injury law firm Thompsons Solicitors has published a short online guide to ‘Staying safe at work in winter’. A brutal cold snap earlier this year led to ‘red weather’ warnings and widespread problems for workers, including employers docking the wages of some who were unable to make it to work as transport was inoperative or the journey was too hazardous.
Staying safe at work in Winter guide, Thompsons Solicitors, 2019. HSE temperature webpages. TUC guides: TUC guide to working in extreme temperatures and Health and safety in the aftermath of flooding. Risks 921. 2 November 2019

Britain: Don’t let excessive work temperatures hurt you
Last weekend’s record high Bank Holiday temperatures may be behind us – but did your workplace have a proper, protective agreement in place before the thermometer topped out? The TUC’s ‘Cool it’ guide gives union reps pointers on how to negotiate suitable protective agreements in consultation with the workforce.
TUC workplace temperature webpages and guide, Cool it! A TUC guide for trade union activists on dealing with high temperatures in the workplace. Risks 912. 31 August 2019

Japan: Third fatality on Tokyo 2020 construction jobs
The death on 8 August of a 50-year-old construction worker from suspected heatstroke has again highlighted the deadly risks facing workers preparing facilities for the Tokyo 2020 Summer Olympics, the global building union federation BWI has said. Toiling in soaring temperatures, the worker was laying cable to a building which will serve as a media centre for the event when he was found unconscious, dying later in hospital.
BWI news release and report, The dark side of the Tokyo 2020 Summer Olympics, May 2019.
NRDC video on the impact of extreme heat on workers and others. Risks 911. 24 August 2019

USA: Climate change drives increase in site heat deaths
Construction workers account for over a third of all heat-related workplace deaths in the US at a rate six times that for the workforce as a whole, a new study has found. Between 1992 and 2016, 783 American workers died because of exposure to excessive heat, and nearly 70,000 were “seriously injured,” according to federal figures.
Xiuwen Sue Dong and others. Heat‐related deaths among construction workers in the United States, American Journal of Industrial Medicine, First published online 22 July 2019. https://doi.org/10.1002/ajim.23024. CPWR research summary. Observer. Risks 910. 17 August 2019

Britain: TUC renews warning on unsafe work temperatures
Record-breaking temperatures can make work unpleasant and downright dangerous unless employers act to protect their staff, the TUC has warned. To cope with the stifling heat, the union body has renewed its call on employers to allow flexible working and to keep workplaces cool so staff can work as comfortably – and safely – as possible.
TUC news release, workplace temperature webpages and guide, Cool it! A TUC guide for trade union activists on dealing with high temperatures in the workplace.
BBC News Online. Manchester Evening News. Newcastle Chronicle.
HSE heat stress advice. Risks 908. 3 August 2019

Britain: Unions welcome Labour's backing for a max work temperature
Unions have welcomed Labour’s call for a maximum temperature, echoing measures sought in a long-running TUC campaign. Under the Labour policy, if the indoor workplace temperature goes over 300C – or 27 Celsius for those doing strenuous work - employers will have to put in place effective temperature controls to help workers keep cool.
GMB news release. UNISON news release. BFAWU news release. The Times. The Mirror. The London Economic. The Telegraph. Risks 908. 3 August 2019

Britain: Outdoor workers at increased air pollution risk in hot weather
The British Safety Council (BSC) has warned that soaring temperatures don’t just present a danger from excessive heat, they leave outdoor workers at a heightened risk for air pollution. BSC chair Lawrence Waterman urged the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) to provide guidance “in relation to outdoor workers who, as well as by heat, are affected by air pollution, particularly in Britain’s largest cities.”
BSC news release and the Canairy mobile app. Risks 908. 3 August 2019

Britain: TUC advice on keeping cool at work
As soaring temperatures have prompted the TUC to remind employers to protect their staff. The TUC warns that high temperatures can lead to potentially serious sickness, a lot of concentration, and slippery, sweaty palms – all of which can increase risks at work.
Cool it! A TUC guide for trade union activists on dealing with high temperatures in the workplace. Risks 907. 27 July 2019

Germany: Unions want 'siesta' break during heat waves
The German trade union federation DGB has called for an extended lunch break for workers struggling to cope with record temperatures. The union body said it will press for workplaces in Germany to offer employees a siesta-style midday break while temperatures remained high.
DW News.
TUC guide to working in heat and 2018 blog on the case for a maximum workplace temperature. Risks 905. 13 July 2019

Europe: Unions call for maximum work temperatures ‘now’
All workers deserve to work in safe temperatures, the European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC) has said. In a week many areas of Europe endured record temperatures, the union body called on the next European Commission “to take this issue seriously and introduce a legislative instrument that recognises this increased risk to workers and provides a framework for protecting workers.”
ETUC news releaseResolution on the Need for EU Action to Protect Workers from High Temperatures on Key demands to build a just transition and boost climate action after EU elections. Risks 904. 6 July 2019

Global: Climate change creating work heat stress risks
Global warming is expected to result in an increase in work-related heat stress, in turn damaging productivity and causing job and economic losses, the International Labour Organisation (ILO) has said, with the poorest countries worst affected. The new ILO report, ‘Working on a warmer planet: The impact of heat stress on labour productivity and decent work’, notes workers in agriculture and construction are particularly at risk, with environmental goods and services, refuse collection, emergency, repair work, transport, tourism, sports and some forms of industrial work also at risk.  
ILO news release and report, Working on a warmer planet: The impact of heat stress on labour productivity and decent work, July 2019. Risks 904. 6 July 2019

Britain: Dismay at government ‘no’ to a maximum work temperature
The union Unite has said it is ‘extremely disappointed’ the government has rejected a call from MPs for a maximum working temperature. Unite national officer for construction Jerry Swain said: “By failing to take action the government is making life more difficult for the good employers who try to do the right thing and look after the welfare of workers as they fear they are being placed at a commercial disadvantage.”
Unite news release. Heatwaves: adapting to climate change, Environment Select Committee report, 26 July 2018 and the government’s response. Risks 873. 3 November 2018

Britain: Unions welcome call by MPs for work temperature ceiling
Unions have welcomed a call by MPs for a maximum workplace temperature. The recommendation from the Environmental Audit Committee (EAC) is included in its new report, ‘Heatwaves: adapting to climate change’ which warns of 7,000 heat-related deaths every year in the UK by 2050 if the government doesn't act quickly.
TUC news release, guide to working in heat and blog on the case for a maximum workplace temperature. Heatwaves: adapting to climate change, Environmental Audit Committee, 26 July 2018 – news release and full report.
GMB news release. BBC News Online. The Guardian. Risks 860. 4 August 2018

Britain: TUC urges bosses to keep workplaces cool
As soaring temperatures prompted the Met Office to issue a heat health warning this week, the TUC has called on employers to keep indoor workplaces cool and relax dress codes so staff can work as comfortably as possible. The union body says bosses can help their workers through simple measures.
TUC blog. TUC news release and guide to working in heat. Met Office heat health watch. BBC News Online and 10 hottest uniforms story. London Evening Standard. Risks 859. 28 July 2018

Britain: Hot workers need enough water and breaks, says TUC
As summer makes itself felt across the UK, the TUC has called on bosses to make sure any staff working outdoors in the baking sun are protected from the harmful effects of over-exposure to sunlight and heat. The TUC says that workers like builders, agricultural workers and gardeners who are outside for lengthy periods in high temperatures are at risk of sunstroke, sunburn and even skin cancer, adding working in hot weather can also lead to dehydration, tiredness, muscle cramps, rashes, fainting, and – in extreme cases – loss of consciousness.
TUC news release and temperature at work guide. Risks 855. 30 June 2018

Britain: Time to turn down the heat in the classroom
The Scottish government is being urged to establish a maximum acceptable temperature in Scotland’s schools. Teaching union EIS says the Scottish government should set a maximum temperature in schools, in the interest of the health and wellbeing of pupils and staff.
EIS news release. Risks 832. 13 January 2018

Britain: TUC warning on travel dangers as temperatures dip
The TUC has called on employers not to force staff to make hazardous journeys into work when the weather turns particularly nasty. The union body says that while workers should make every effort to get in, employees shouldn’t attempt to travel if it’s not safe to do so, particularly if they live in isolated areas.
TUC news release. PCS and Prospect guides. Risks 830. 16 December 2017

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The ITUC has produced a detailed briefing about the health and safety impacts of the climate crisis that is available Here