Work Outside? How Climate Change Can Hurt You
Fact: the number of 90-degree weather days has been increasing. The cool, salty breezes alongÂ Rhode Islandâ€™s coastlines only reach so far inland. As a result, people who work outside are moreÂ likely to experience the negative health affects associated with high temperatures.
Senator Sheldon Whitehouse has understood how significant this issue is for quite some time. HeÂ has given over 100 speeches on the Senate floor, urging his colleagues to take action against theÂ ever-increasing issue of climate change. During one of his â€œTime to Wake Upâ€ speeches, heÂ talked about the number of 90-degree days, saying that â€œin the worst case, that number could riseÂ to over 50 90-degree days every year, with the mercury soaring over 95 degrees Fahrenheit forÂ 16 of those days.â€
What does this mean? It means that those who work outside to repair our power lines and buildÂ our wind farms are susceptible to health risks like dehydration, exhaustion, and even severeÂ sunburns. This could lead to heat-stress injuries and illnesses that result in emergency roomÂ visits, hospitalizations, and time away from work. It is important for everyone to recognize howÂ seriously people can be affected and ensure that appropriate measures are taken to keep theÂ workforce safe.
A good place to start is to limit the amount of time workers spend outside by offering coolingÂ breaks. Employees should drink water and get out of the sun for a few minutes. Even if workersÂ are given more chances to cool off and drink water, anyone with certain preexisting health issues,Â like asthma, may have trouble breathing the air anyway. On those hot days, smog forms moreÂ quickly, which can trigger an attack. As a result, it is not unreasonable to allow some leeway inÂ break-time policies on the hottest days.
Employers and employees alike should pay extra attention to those air quality days once theÂ weather warms up. It could be the difference between a day out of work due to severeÂ dehydration and a healthy, productive worker.