Climate change and its various effects are major challenges for the international community. Owing to global warming, we will be working and producing under changed climatic conditions throughout the world.
In order to specify these challenges more precisely and to identify suitable measures for enabling occupational activities to remain feasible under the changed conditions, the Federal Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (BAuA) and the Institutes of the German Social Accident Insurance (DGUV) invited international experts to a networking event on October 17th in Dresden. The event was initiated by the Federal Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs (BMAS) in the context of the German G7 presidency in the Employment Track.
The event was attended by about 100 experts from over 15 countries. The participants discussed various mechanisms through which climate change will affect our work life, including heat, extreme weather, spread of diseases, new hazardous substances, and psychological effects.
For occupational safety and health, climate change will presumably lead to a decline in productivity, heat stress, intensified exposure to ultraviolet radiation and an increased spread of vectors carrying infectious diseases. In addition, the growing recycling and alternative energy industry bring with them new hazardous substances workers are exposed to.
In this networking event, experts discussed the status quo, current research findings as well as research gaps. Ideas and impulse for new projects and collaborations were identified.
Occupational safety and health regulations provide relevant information and mandatory or voluntary rules for enabling safe and health work in times of climate change. A post-workshop on regulation was initiated to revisit the main outcomes and (primarily scientific) results of the previous day and provide a possibility for a joint group discussion.
Information about the different regulatory approaches in the participating countries were discussed in a group setting to identify common challenges, existing solutions and approaches for future joint initiatives and cooperations. Participants presented the situation in their nation and outlined future approaches.
The exchange of information and positions was initiated by a keynote speech, outlining the regulatory approach with respect to ambient conditions in the workplace and climate, in Germany. The following group discussion addressed relevant issues and questions about transferring scientific knowledge on occupational safety and health into the design of future work. Among other topics, the required balance of enabling safe work conditions on the one hand and other protective goals on the other hand (e.g. energetic needs, decarbonization) was considered. Additionally, the different national approaches and solutions for regulations or recommendations for companies and enterprises were outlined. Further discussions referred to sub-topics (e.g., temperature or UV radiation) and allowed an in-depth discussion of these topics.
The event served the purposes of exchanging the various approaches in the participating countries and identifying potential for future, joint possibilities and solutions.