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Study links increased injury claims to heat

A new study by the University of Adelaide’s School of Public Health has linked data from worker compensation claims with temperature records.

The research found there was an association between hotter temperatures and an increase in injury claims.

“We looked at the worker compensation claims for those who commonly work outdoors, including construction workers, farmers, emergency services officers and utility employees,” lead researcher Professor Bi said.

“What we found was that once the mercury approached 37.7°C; there was a considerable increase in injuries recorded.

“We found that the types of injuries and illnesses that occurred on particularly hot days were also largely preventable and included incidents like falls, poisoning due to chemical exposure, occupational burns and heat stroke.”


Professor Bi said it is clear from this research that more needs to be done to protect workers in extreme heat.

The study’s conclusion stated Australian occupational hygienists and specialists showed concerns over heat stress, but did not show strong willingness to amend heat prevention recommendations to management or companies.

“The Australian workplaces may not be well-prepared for the likelihood of increasing incidence of heat stress due to climate change,” the study said.

“The major heat prevention barriers recognized by the participants were lack of awareness, lack of training, lack of management commitment, and low compliance of heat prevention policies.

“The high proportion of participants not satisfied with current heat prevention measures indicates there is a need for further development of current heat management strategies in the Australian workplaces.”

The paper was published in PLOS ONE.

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