Barriers to occupational heat stress risk adaptation of mining workers in Ghana
International Journal of Biometeorology
School of Arts and Humanities
Increasing temperature and climate warming impacts are aggravating the vulnerability of workers to occupational heat stress. Adaptation and social protection strategies have become crucial to enhance workers’ health, safety, productive capacity and social lives. However, the effective implementation of work-related heat stress adaptation mechanisms appears to be receiving little attention. This study assessed the barriers to occupational heat stress adaptation and social protection strategies of mining workers in Ghana. Based on a mixed methods approach, focus group discussions and questionnaires were used to elicit data from 320 mining workers. Workers’ adaptation strategies (water intake, wearing loose and light-coloured clothing, participating in training programmes, taking regular breaks, use of mechanical equipment, use of cooling systems and housing designs) varied significantly across the type of mining activity (p < .001). Workers’ social protection measures were adequate. The disparities in workers’ social protection measures significantly differed across the type of mining activity (p < .001). Barriers of workers to the implementation of relevant adaptation strategies (inadequate knowledge of coping and adaptive behaviour, lack of regular training on adaptation measures, lack of specific heat-related policy regulations, lack of management commitment and the lack of access to innovative technology and equipment) also differed across the type of mining activity (p < .001). Adaptation policy options and recommendations centred on overcoming the barriers that constrain the adaptive capacity of workers and employers have the potential to reduce workers’ vulnerability to occupational heat stress.