Connect with us

Hi, what are you looking for?


As heatwaves become more extreme, which jobs are riskiest?

Heat is more dangerous than the cold in most Australian regions. About 2% of deaths in Australia between 2006 and 2017 were associated with the heat, and the estimate increases to more than 4% in the northern and central parts of the country.

In fact, Australian death records underestimate the association between heat and mortality at least 50-fold and chronic heat stress is also under-reported.

The risk is higher in some regions but where you live is not the only factor that matters. When it comes to heat, some jobs are much more dangerous, and put workers at higher risk of injury.

One study compared workers’ compensation claims in Adelaide from 2003 to 2013. It found workers at higher risk during extremely hot temperatures included:

  • animal and horticultural workers
  • cleaners
  • food service workers
  • metal workers
  • warehouse workers.

The authors noted hot weather “poses a greater problem than cold weather. This is of particular concern as the number of hot days is projected to increase”.

Another study involving many of the same researchers looked at the impact of heatwaves on work-related injuries and illnesses in Melbourne, Perth and Brisbane. It found vulnerable groups included:

  • males
  • workers aged under 34 years
  • apprentice/trainee workers
  • labour hire workers
  • those employed in medium and heavy strength occupations, and
  • workers from outdoor and indoor industrial sectors.

A study of work-related injuries in Melbourne between 2002 and 2012 found young workers, male workers and workers engaged in heavy physical work are at increased risk of injury on hot days, and a wider range of worker subgroups are vulnerable to injury following a warm night. In light of climate change projections, this information is important for informing injury prevention strategies.

A study using data for Adelaide between 2001 and 2010 concluded male workers and young workers aged under 24 were at high risk of work-related injuries in hot environments. The link between temperature and daily injury claims was strong for labourers, tradespeople and intermediate production and transport workers (who do jobs such as operating plant, machinery, vehicles and other equipment to transport passengers and goods).

Industries with greater risk were agriculture, forestry and fishing, construction, as well as electricity, gas and water.

A systematic review and meta-analysis of 24 studies on the links between heat exposure and occupational injuries found

Young workers (age < 35 years), male workers and workers in agriculture, forestry or fishing, construction and manufacturing industries were at high risk of occupational injuries during hot temperatures. Further young workers (age < 35 years), male workers and those working in electricity, gas and water and manufacturing industries were found to be at high risk of occupational injuries during heatwaves.

The fact that apprentices or trainees had greater heat-related injuries in the workplace may surprise many, as heat tolerance deteriorates with age. Exposure to labour intensive work, less experience in managing heat stress, and a propensity to avoid acknowledging they’re affected by heat may contribute to the higher risk for younger workers.

A growing body of international research shows extreme heat can cause severe health issues.

Other factors that increase vulnerability to heat include age (especially being older or very young), low-socioeconomic status, and homelessness. Regions also matter; there are differences between climate zones and increased heat-related morbidity in rural settings.

Underlying health conditions increase the risk of heat-related illness and death. These health conditions include

  • diabetes
  • high blood pressure
  • chronic kidney disease
  • heart conditions and
  • respiratory conditions.

Chronic heat exposure is dangerous and has been linked to serious health problems, including chronic and irreversible kidney injury. A range of studies have linked higher temperatures with increases in suicide rates, emergency department visits for mental illness, and poor mental health.

Most of the studies mentioned here focused on worker’s compensation claims. That data includes only those injuries for which compensation claims were actually made. In reality, the problem is likely more widespread.

The Australian studies primarily focused on the milder climatic regions of Australia, but the rate of injuries and ill health is greater in hot and humid regions. And the dangers may be worse in regional and remote areas, particularly when and where workforces are transient.

We also need more research on the relationship between the length of exposure to higher temperatures (in hours or days) and worker health.

National studies or studies in other regions should assess whether rates of injury differ by occupation, climate zone and remoteness. Capturing data on all types and severity of workplace injuries (not just those that led to a compensation claim) is crucial to understanding the true extent of the problem.

As the climate changes and heatwaves become more frequent and severe, it’s vital we do more to understand who is most vulnerable and how we can reduce their risk.

This story is part of a series The Conversation is running on the nexus between disaster, disadvantage and resilience. You can read the rest of the stories here. — REUTERS

Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Get the daily email that makes reading the news actually enjoyable. Stay informed and entertained, for free.
Your information is secure and your privacy is protected. By opting in you agree to receive emails from us. Remember that you can opt-out any time, we hate spam too!



People living in rural areas are having to travel further to find somewhere to withdraw and deposit cash free of charge, says the City...


Ministers have ruled out extending the list of workers who are exempt from self-isolation rules and warned that the August 16 date for lifting...


The House of Representatives will adopt the Senate’s version of the proposed measure taxing Philippine Offshore Gaming Operators (POGO), a key lawmaker said on...


President Rodrigo R. Duterte on Friday approved the recommendation of his pandemic task force to enforce stricter quarantine rules in Manila, the capital, and...


Thirty-seven percent of Filipinos are optimistic that their lives will improve over the next 12 months, a non-commissioned survey shows.  Of the 1,200 respondents in Social Weather Stations’...


Six electricity consumers on Friday filed a complaint with the Ombudsman against Department of Energy (DoE) Secretary Alfonso G. Cusi, alleging that the government official has neglected his duties.  “In his five...

You May Also Like


Having a good Instagram marketing agency to back up your Instagram account is an absolute must going into the new year. With competition stronger...


US President Joseph R. Biden, Jr., will rely on ally countries to supply the bulk of the metals needed to build electric vehicles and focus on...


As a traditionally rigid insurance industry becomes bogged down by antiquated processes and operations, a handful of industry leaders are seeking to shake things...


THE Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has warned the public from investing or to stop any investment in a group named Maxxprofit Computer Trading...

Disclaimer:, its managers, its employees, and assigns (collectively "The Company") do not make any guarantee or warranty about what is advertised above. Information provided by this website is for research purposes only and should not be considered as personalized financial advice. The Company is not affiliated with, nor does it receive compensation from, any specific security. The Company is not registered or licensed by any governing body in any jurisdiction to give investing advice or provide investment recommendation. Any investments recommended here should be taken into consideration only after consulting with your investment advisor and after reviewing the prospectus or financial statements of the company.

Copyright © 2021 SmartRetirementReport. All Rights Reserved.

Get the daily email that makes reading the news actually enjoyable. Stay informed and entertained, for free.

Your information is secure and your privacy is protected. By opting in you agree to receive emails from us. Remember that you can opt-out any time, we hate spam too!