We have had a few of difficult summer seasons in the previous few years, with lethal heat waves that set new records for high temperatures and extended hot dry spells like the ones we have been experiencing this October.
Now, the findings of a study conducted by researchers in the College of Public Health and Human Sciences at Oregon State University show that traumatic injuries sustained by workers in the state of Oregon who are employed in the agricultural and construction industries are significantly higher during periods of high heat in comparison to periods in which the weather is more moderate.
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According to Richard Evoy, the primary author of the recently published research report, “and essentially the most important takeaway is that when temps climbed above 75 degrees, we noticed an increase of 15-29% for injury risk.” [Citation needed]
Along with other researchers, Evoy analysed the 92,000 on-the-job injury claims that were submitted to the Oregon workers’ compensation reports over the course of ten years, from 2009-2018. This research was part of Evoy’s PhD dissertation.
“And we only looked at ones that essentially occurred during the course of a work shift, so it’s not a cumulative injury, it’s one that happens during the work shift,” explained Evoy. “And because we only looked at ones that essentially occurred during the course of a work shift, it’s not a cumulative injury.”
The researcher emphasised that this is a large-scale, overarching study that does not delve into specific situations in any detail. However, this does demonstrate that increasing the heat will also increase the amount of injuries.
In addition to looking at how temperatures have increased, the study also investigated how injuries have been affected by smoke from wildfires. The researchers came to the conclusion that the presence of smoke in the air was, on its own, highly connected to an elevated risk of harm. However, when the heat index was taken into account as well, the effect of the smoke was significantly reduced.
Regarding the such topic, additional study is required. In point of fact, the authors of this study expect that it will lead to additional field research, which in turn will lead to other strategies to safeguard employees and others from the effects of our current climatic reality.
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“We need to go out into the field and do more studies that are actually measuring these impacts and exposures that workers are feeling in their workplaces and how it affects both their health and their risk of sustaining an injury while they are at work.” “We need to go out into the field and do more studies that are actually measuring these impacts and exposures that workers are feeling in their workplaces.”
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