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Escalating environmental summer heat exposure—a future threat for the European workforce

Journal: Regional Environmental Change
Year: 2020   Volume: 20
Status: Published
In this status since: 23 Mar 2020
PDF file: 2020_Casanueva_REEC_D12HEATSHIELD.pdf
Link to PDF: 2020_Casanueva_REEC
DOI: 10.1007/s10113-020-01625-6
Authors:
, Kotlarski, S., Fischer, A.M., Flouris, A.D., Kjellstrom, T., Lemke, B., Nybo, L., Schwierz, C., Liniger, M.A.

Heat exposure constitutes a major threat for European workers, with significant impacts on the workers’ health and productivity. Climate projections over the next decades show a continuous and accelerated warming over Europe together with longer, more intense and more frequent heatwaves on regional and local scales. In this work, we assess the increased risk in future occupational heat stress levels using the wet bulb globe temperature (WBGT), an index adopted by the International Standards Organization as regulatory index to measure the heat exposure of working people. Our results show that, in large parts of Europe, future heat exposure will indeed exceed critical levels for physically active humans far more often than in today’s climate, and labour productivity might be largely reduced in southern Europe. European industries should adapt to the projected changes to prevent major consequences for the workers’ health and to preserve economic productivity.