Wet Bulb Globe Temperature and Recorded Occupational Injury Rates among Sugarcane Harvesters in Southwest Guatemala

Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2020 Nov 6;17(21):8195. doi: 10.3390/ijerph17218195.


As global temperatures continue to rise it is imperative to understand the adverse effects this will pose to workers laboring outdoors. The purpose of this study was to investigate the relationship between increases in wet bulb globe temperature (WBGT) and risk of occupational injury or dehydration among agricultural workers. We used data collected by an agribusiness in Southwest Guatemala over the course of four harvest seasons and Poisson generalized linear modelling for this analysis. Our analyses suggest a 3% increase in recorded injury risk with each degree increase in daily average WBGT above 30 °C (95% CI: -6%, 14%). Additionally, these data suggest that the relationship between WBGT and injury risk is non-linear with an additional 4% acceleration in risk for every degree increase in WBGT above 30 °C (95% CI: 0%, 8%). No relationship was found between daily average WBGT and risk of dehydration. Our results indicate that agricultural workers are at an increased risk of occupational injury in humid and hot environments and that businesses need to plan and adapt to increasing global temperatures by implementing and evaluating effective occupational safety and health programs to protect the health, safety, and well-being of their workers.

Keywords: agricultural workers; climate change; occupational injury.

MeSH terms

  • Farmers*
  • Guatemala / epidemiology
  • Heat Stress Disorders / epidemiology*
  • Heat Stress Disorders / etiology
  • Hot Temperature
  • Humans
  • Occupational Exposure*
  • Occupational Injuries*
  • Saccharum*
  • Temperature