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A foreign worker cleans a pond next to a public building in Doha during the International Conference on Occupational Heat Stress in Qatar on May 10, 2023. Rising global temperatures are increasing the risk of death and disability for workers working in extreme heat, an international conference said/AFP.

DOHA, Qatar — Rising global temperatures are putting workers at greater risk of dying or being injured in extreme heat, an international conference said.

Held in Qatar, where spring temperatures approached 40 degrees Celsius (104 degrees Fahrenheit), the conference saw tens of thousands of workers around the world suffering from chronic kidney disease and other heat-related illnesses in recent decades. There have been reports that he died of an illness that

At an occupational heat stress conference focused on how climate change and rising temperatures threaten the health of workers, Ruba Jaradat, Arab countries regional director for the International Labor Organization, said: It shows that the country can do more.”

Last year’s World Cup in Qatar put a spotlight on workers working in temperatures that can exceed 50 degrees Celsius (122 degrees Fahrenheit) during peak Gulf summers.

From 2021, Qatar has banned outdoor work from 10am to 3:30pm from 1st June to 15th September.

The United Nations Labor Organization has praised the reforms, but some experts say more can be done.

There are no international standards for temperatures for outdoor work, but climate change is requiring new scrutiny.

The US government has promised new rules for 2021 after a deadly heat wave, with the White House saying “heat is the nation’s leading weather-related killer.” Not generated.

Europe also saw a devastating heat wave. But outside of Qatar, Cyprus is one of the few countries to limit working hours, ordering extra breaks and thermal clothing when temperatures exceed 35 degrees Celsius (95 degrees Fahrenheit). .

Extreme heat and solar radiation cause heat stroke, kidney, heart and lung disease, and increase the incidence of cancer, researchers say.

Justin Glaser, head of the La Isla Network, an occupational health group, said more than 20,000 Central American sugar workers had died from chronic kidney disease over a decade. pointed out that about 25,000 people die from kidney disease.

“People are dying”

About a billion farm workers and tens of millions in construction and other outdoor industries are at the forefront, the conference said. But swimming pool lifeguards, gardeners, and mailmen also face heat hazards.

Construction workers exposed to sufficient amounts of UV light for 30 to 40 years may more than double their risk of non-melanoma skin cancer.

In a 2020 study, researchers from Taiwan warned that kidney disease from extreme heat “may be one of the first epidemics from global warming.”

According to ILO projections, South Asia and sub-Saharan Africa will suffer the most from lost working hours due to extreme heat in the coming years.

India, Bangladesh and neighboring countries have huge agricultural populations, many working in the informal sector without health insurance.

Vidya Venugopal, Professor of Occupational Health at the Sri Ramachandra Institute in Chennai, highlights cases of hundreds of thousands of Indian salt farmers working in desert-like conditions and suffering from kidney and other ailments. bottom.

“They have no cover and are salted all day,” Benugopal told AFP. In the summer, about 80% will get some kind of heat stroke.

But millions of workers are at risk in industrial areas in northern India, she said.

India and other poor countries cannot wait for international standards to come into force. We have to adjust to the culture.”

Health experts say rest, water and shade are needed to reduce the risk of fatalities.

“Owners say no, no, no, they don’t want to let their employees rest because it makes them less productive. But that has to change,” said Venugopal.

La Isla Network’s Glaser worked with a Central American sugar company to improve the situation. Workers on nine-hour shifts harvested 4.75 tonnes of sugar cane per day. With better rest, shade and water, they said he cut down 6.2 tons in his four hours.

— AFP Climate change raises heat risk for workers, experts warn

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