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Action Needed: Protecting Outdoor Workers from Extreme Heat

As summer hits Europe with soaring temperatures, it becomes crucial to shed light on the pressing issue of protecting outdoor workers from the dangers of extreme heat.

Recent research conducted by Eurofound revealed that a significant 23% of all workers in the EU faced regular exposure to high temperatures. This percentage increases to 36% in agriculture and industry sectors and jumps to a staggering 38% for construction workers. With such alarming statistics, trade unions are calling for the implementation of maximum temperature limits to safeguard the health and well-being of workers facing these conditions.

Heat stress poses serious risks to workers, potentially resulting in heat-related illnesses such as heat stroke, heat exhaustion, cramps, and rashes. Moreover, the heightened heat can lead to increased accidents due to factors like sweaty palms, fogged-up safety glasses, and dizziness. In some cases, workers may even suffer burns from accidental contact with scorching surfaces or steam. The issue becomes even more pressing for vulnerable individuals, including those who are older, overweight, or have pre-existing conditions such as heart disease or high blood pressure, as well as those taking medications that could be impacted by extreme heat.

To address this pressing concern, employers must prioritize prevention and take proactive measures. This includes providing comprehensive training to workers to ensure they understand the risks associated with heat stress, its impact on their health and safety, and how to prevent it. By raising awareness and promoting best practices, companies can empower their employees to take necessary precautions and protect themselves while on the job. Implementing measures such as access to shaded areas, adequate hydration breaks, and appropriate personal protective equipment can significantly contribute to minimizing the risks of heat stress.

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