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World Day for Safety and Health at Work 2024

By Michele Victoria, CICES Sustainability Committee Chair

We face new challenges at work brought by climate change, which impact our health, safety and welfare at work - something that is often overlooked.

Michele Victoria

This year’s theme for the World Day for Safety and Health at Work calls us to ponder on these impacts.

EU-OSHA (2024) reports that climate change affects workers’ safety and health through:

  • Increased temperatures
  • UV radiation
  • Extreme weather events
  • Vector-borne diseases

All of which have detrimental effects on both indoor and outdoor workers.

Civil engineering surveyors working indoors are susceptible to increased heat stress if they are working in poorly cooled buildings, which might lead to decreased cognitive abilities.

Similarly, surveyors working outdoors with direct exposure to sunlight and heat can experience increased body temperatures, which can lead to dehydration, mental fatigue, physical exhaustion, heat stroke and collapse.

Continuous exposure to UV radiations increases the risk of skin cancer and can impair motor-cognitive performance.

Providing a safe working environment for staff is a legal responsibility of companies.

Therefore, a risk assessment is needed where employees are exposed to such climate related impacts due to their work.

How can you make a difference?

As civil engineering surveyors, it is your responsibility to ensure that these risks are identified and mitigative measures are put in place to protect you from such negative impacts.

Some of the preventative measures as suggested by EU-OSHA (2024) are as follows:

For outdoors:

  • Providing sufficient shade, sunscreen and protective clothing
  • Adequate rest areas to cool down during breaks
  • Adapting working hours to avoid times of the day with hot temperatures and UV exposure
  • Monitoring temperature

For indoors:

  • Adapting work processes to reduce heat stress
  • Isolating machinery that generates heat
  • Sustainable cooling system
  • Dedicated cooling areas

As chair of the Sustainability Committee, I urge you to prioritize your safety and health at your workplace in the face of climate change.

Why don’t we take a moment today to review our risk assessment at work and check if these risks are covered?

Because your safety and health are more important than anything else!

Additional reading: European Climate and Health Observatory: 'Effects on occupational health & safety'.

Interested in getting involved in the CICES Sustainabilty Committee? Please contact us.

Published: 26 April 2024