FAO report warns about occupational hazards produced by climatic conditions
27 abril 2018


Climatic conditions of work.  On April 17th, in the Sixth International Conference on Forest Engineering held in New Zealand, the United Nations Organization for Food and Agriculture (FAO) presented the report “Management of heat in agricultural work” . It presents studies conducted on farms in Latin America and focuses on the problem of heat stress. That is why it calls to take measures against occupational risks produced by adverse weather conditions, which will continue increasing due to climate change. FAO expects the companies and institutions that participated in the conference to adopt the measures recommended by the report in the coming months.

From April 16th to 19th, the Sixth International Conference on Forest Engineering was held, with the participation of the FAO Forestry Officer, Jonas Cedergren. He was in charge of presenting the report “Heat management in agricultural work”, focused on studies carried out in Latin America.  It seeks to contribute with the institution’s effort to achieve decent jobs, one of the objectives of their Agenda for Sustainable Development.

The report “Heat management in agricultural work” presents the results of studies carried out in sugarcane plantations in tropical zones of Latin America. The study is focused on the analysis of the impact of heat on outdoor workers. The results proved that the incidence of heat stress is problematic, leading to severe health risks for workers. Furthermore, it was found that most of the employees begin their shifts dehydrated due to the shortcomings in working conditions in that area.

Heat stress occurs when the body can not dissipate enough body heat to the environment, something especially complex when the ambient temperature is higher than that of the skin, which is around 92.6 degrees Fahrenheit. To change this, FAO is proposing a series of measures. Mainly urges public or private companies that have outdoor workers to ensure proper hydration of their workers. At the same time, it recommends creating a system of standardized reports regarding this problem. Finally, it suggests carrying out awareness campaigns in this regard.

Next steps

FAO hopes that, with the study presented, in the coming weeks the countries, institutions, companies and producer organizations will begin to join the measures proposed in the report to improve worker safety and progress in the Agenda for the Sustainable development.