Climate change and occupational heat stress risks and adaptation strategies of mining workers: Perspectives of supervisors and other stakeholders in Ghana
School of Science
Increasing air temperatures as a result of climate change are worsening the impact of heat exposure on working populations, including mining workers, who are at risk of suffering heat-related illnesses, injury and death. However, inadequate awareness of climate change-related occupational heat stress risks and adaptation strategies have been shown to render occupational heat stress management ineffective. A concurrent mixed-methods approach was used to assess the perceptions of climate change and occupational heat stress risks and adaptation strategies of mining workers among supervisory personnel and other stakeholders in Ghana. Questionnaires and interviews were used to elicit data from 19 respondents. Data were processed and interpreted using descriptive statistics, chi-square and Fisher's exact tests, and thematic analysis. Supervisors’ climate change risks perception was adequate, and their concern about workplace heat exposure risks was moderate. Mining workers’ occupational heat stress risks experiences were linked to heat-related illness and minor injuries. Mining workers’ adaptation strategies included water intake, use of cooling mechanisms, work-break practices, and clothing use. The related differences in job experience in the distribution of climate change risk perception and occupational heat stress risk experiences, and the difference in educational attainment in the distribution of adaptation strategies of occupational heat stress were significant (p < 0.05). Hence, an effective workplace heat management policy requires adequate understanding of occupational heat stress risks and adaptation policies and continued education and training for mining workers.