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Does excessive heat raise the risk of work-related injuries?


Photo: Virginia Department of Transportation/Flickr

Waltham, MA — The higher outdoor temperatures climb, the more likely it is that a worker will be injured, according to a recent study from the Workers Compensation Research Institute.

Researchers looked at 2016-2021 workers’ comp claims data and weather data from across 24 states. They found that on days when the high temperature was 85-90° F, the chance of a work-related injury was an estimated 4.3% greater than on days when temps were between 65° F and 70° F.

The probability rose to 5.3% when the daily high temperature hit 90-95° F, and around 6% when temps were 95° F or above.

“Also, the effect of excessive heat is greater on traumatic injuries, including fractures, dislocations, contusions and lacerations,” WCRI President and CEO Ramona Tanabe said in a press release.

In the construction industry, the chance of an injury was 14% higher when the daily high temperature was 90-95° F, compared with when it was 65-70° F. The likelihood of an injury was 20% greater when the thermometer reached a high of 95-100° F.

Perhaps not surprisingly, workers in the South exhibited a higher risk of injury under higher temperatures. The Northeast, however, experienced an 8% rise in injuries when the daily high temperature was 90-100° F compared with when it was 65-70° F.

WCRI says the study’s findings “can inform public policy debates on the importance of preventing the effects of excessive heat.”

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