Extreme Weather and Climate Events and Occupational Health in Thailand
Background Extreme weather and climate events impact public health in multiple ways and extreme heat is one of the major environmental challenges for public health in Thailand. Objective We assessed the effects of heat stress on occupational health among agricultural workers who are exposed to the heat at different levels for both males and females in different age groups. We further investigated the responses to extreme heat among the government agencies. Methods A cross-sectional study was used to identify heat exposure situations that create heat stress-related health risks. The question guidelines have been developed to assess occupational heat impacts in the study site and used semi-structured interviews to describe how agricultural workers experience heat exposures where they work. The Wet Bulb Globe Temperature (WBGT) index and temperatures were measured by WBGT monitors in both winter and summer. Twenty-nine participants aged 24–76 were recruited to the study. Results All participants had one or more signs and symptoms of heat stress; however, they had concerns about work-related heat stress prevention. Outdoor WBGT was found to be highest between 11:00 AM and 11:59 AM, and 13:00 PM and 13:59 PM in winter and summer, respectively. Our findings revealed that study sites had heat indices necessitating extreme caution, where sunstroke, muscle cramps, and/or heat exhaustion were possible with prolonged exposure. Conclusions A heat health warning system is essential to reduce the negative impacts of extreme weather.
KeywordsClimate change Extreme weather Heat exposure Heat stress Thailand
This study was supported by the National Research University Project of Thailand Office of Higher Education Commission and School of Global Studies at Thammasat University. We would like to express our sincere thanks and appreciation to Dr. Kamol Promsakha na Sakolnakhon from the Thai Meteorological Department, Ministry of Digital Economy and Society, for annual average maximum temperature and location of the study area maps. Our special thanks go to participants for their patience and contribution to this study.
Declaration of Interests
We declare no competing interests.
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