Official records dramatically fail to capture workplace injuries caused by extreme heat, new data described in congressional testimony Thursday shows. The dangers, which go beyond heat stroke and include injuries from falls or mishandled machinery, are concentrated among poor workers in yet another example of how climate change worsens societal inequities.
“Most people still associate climate risk with sea-level rise, hurricanes and wildfires,” R. Jisung Park, a professor of public policy at the University of California, Los Angeles and the lead author of the study, told the New York Times. “Heat is only beginning to creep into the consciousness as something that is immediately damaging.” Heat appears to exacerbate underlying inequities and workplace dangers with the lowest-paid workers suffering five times as many heat-related injuries as the highest-paid and high temperatures increase the chance of injuries for wholesale trade workers by 15%. (New York Times $; Climate Signals background: Extreme heat and heatwaves)