Climate change and occupational safety and health
Climate change and associated environmental degradation pose increasing risks to workers’ health and safety. They are often the first to be exposed to climate change effects, for longer durations and at greater intensities than the general public. They cannot elect to avoid those hazards.
Climate change is impacting health in various ways, including by leading to death and illness from increasingly frequent extreme weather events, such as heatwaves, storms and floods, increases in vector-borne diseases, and mental health issues. Some of those impacts threaten equally business assets and business interruptions and the operation of entire supply chains.
October 2022 – December 2024
Federal Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs, The United States Department of Labor (USDOL)
In its most recent Communiqué, G7 Leaders recognize “the importance of effective occupational safety and health measures to protecting workers, ensuring decent work, maintaining high productivity and promoting employability, including in the face of new challenges due to structural reasons and climate change. We acknowledge the important contribution the Vision Zero Fund makes to improving OSH in global supply chains. We express our renewed commitment to support the Fund’s work and welcome a greater focus on climate change and OSH in global supply chains, including through the implementation of a new pilot project within the Vision Zero Fund.” (G7 Employment Ministerial Meeting Communiqué, Wolfsburg, 24 May 2022)
Vision Zero Fund has identified three project countries on three different continents (Madagascar, Mexico and Vietnam) in which to implement pilot activities. The focus will be on the design and implementation of adaptation measures that will benefit some of the most vulnerable workers in the agriculture and construction sectors.
In Madagascar, the Fund has commissioned research to assess the impact of climate change on the safety and health of cotton farmers and construction workers in Madagascar. The findings of the research will inform the development of training courses to improve the capacity of the labour inspectorate and the social partners. In addition, the findings will also inform proposals to close regulatory gaps.
In Mexico, the project will develop and implement a methodology to measure heat exposure and heat stress among workers in the tomato and chili pepper sectors in Jalisco and assess the perceived and direct impacts on the health and productivity of workers. In a second phase, heat adaptation measured will be designed, implemented and monitored. Based on the results, the project will support improvements of national and workplace level frameworks to address occupational heat stress.
In Viet Nam, the Fund is conducting a comprehensive feasibility study to assess the overall impact of climate change on the safety and health of agricultural workers and to identify appropriate adaptive measures that can be implemented with the support of the Fund.