Eddie Van Etten
International Journal of Biometeorology
School of Medical and Health Sciences / School of Science / School of Arts and Humanities
Edith Cowan University
Many occupational settings located outdoors in direct sun, such as open cut mining, pose a health, safety, and productivity risk to workers because of their increased exposure to heat. This issue is exacerbated by climate change effects, the physical nature of the work, the requirement to work extended shifts and the need to wear protective clothing which restricts evaporative cooling. Though Ghana has a rapidly expanding mining sector with a large workforce, there appears to be no study that has assessed the magnitude and risk of heat exposure on mining workers and its potential impact on this workforce. Questionnaires and temperature data loggers were used to assess the risk and extent of heat exposure in the working and living environments of Ghanaian miners. The variation in heat exposure risk factors across workers’ gender, education level, workload, work hours, physical work exertion and proximity to heat sources is significant (p < 0.05). Mining workers are vulnerable to the hazards of heat exposure which can endanger their health and safety, productive capacity, social well-being, adaptive capacity and resilience. An evaluation of indoor and outdoor Wet Bulb Globe Temperature (WBGT) in the working and living environment showed that mining workers can be exposed to relatively high thermal load, thus raising their heat stress risk. Adequate adaptation policies and heat exposure management for workers are imperative to reduce heat stress risk, and improve productive capacity and the social health of mining workers.