Climate Change, Workplace Heat Exposure, and Occupational Health and Productivity in Central America

Int J Occup Environ Health. Jul-Sep 2011;17(3):270-81. doi: 10.1179/107735211799041931.

Abstract

Climate change is increasing heat exposure in places such as Central America, a tropical region with generally hot/humid conditions. Working people are at particular risk of heat stress because of the intrabody heat production caused by physical labor. This article aims to describe the risks of occupational heat exposure on health and productivity in Central America, and to make tentative estimates of the impact of ongoing climate change on these risks. A review of relevant literature and estimation of the heat exposure variable wet bulb globe temperature (WBGT) in different locations within the region were used to estimate the effects. We found that heat stress at work is a real threat. Literature from Central America and heat exposure estimates show that some workers are already at risk under current conditions. These conditions will likely worsen with climate change, demonstrating the need to create solutions that will protect worker health and productivity.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Central America / epidemiology
  • Climate Change*
  • Developing Countries
  • Efficiency, Organizational
  • Heat Stress Disorders / epidemiology*
  • Humans
  • Occupational Exposure*
  • Occupational Health
  • Occupations
  • Workplace*