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Climate change poses a risk to workers worldwide

Heat, UV radiation, bad air: According to the UN labor organization ILO, climate change is putting increasing strain on workers. Extreme weather events also pose increasing risks for them.

According to a UN report, climate change is likely to pose safety and health risks for more than 70 percent of all workers worldwide. The International Labor Organization (ILO) speaks of a “real cocktail of dangers”.

The ILO, part of the United Nations, estimates that 2.4 billion of the world's 3.4 billion workers are already exposed to excessive heat at some point during their working hours – especially people who work in agriculture or other outdoor work. The organization estimates that nearly 19,000 people die every year due to excessive heat while working.

Heat and UV radiation are the biggest dangers, according to the report. The ILO also includes work during extreme weather events, for example for fishermen, but also for emergency workers and clean-up teams after disasters. People working outdoors are also increasingly at risk from parasites that are spreading in larger areas due to climate change.

The connection has long been recognized

A connection to climate change has already been established in numerous diseases, such as skin cancer, cardiovascular or respiratory diseases or macular degeneration, which can destroy vision. The ILO praises the fact that employers in Germany must provide protective clothing due to the risk of UV radiation and that some forms of skin cancer have been recognized as occupational diseases since 2015.

“It is clear that climate change is already creating significant additional health risks for workers,” said Manal Azzi, head of the ILO's Occupational Safety and Health Department. Legislators, employers and employees would have to deal with this and find a remedy. Working in a safe and healthy environment is a fundamental right.

Mathias Zahn, ARD Geneva, tagesschau, April 22, 2024 3:02 p.m

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