newsMail & Guardian reports that a recent study found how increasing temperatures in SA from climate change reduces the ability of people to work in sectors that usually have high exposure to heat, such as farming, construction, fishing and mining.

Temperature rise due to climate change has negatively affected labour productivity in the country in recent decades and will keep damaging it, potentially to a higher extent than what has been previously estimated, the authors found. Retha Louw is the chief executive of the Sustainability Initiative of SA (Siza), which works with the agricultural sector to ensure ethical and environmentally sustainable trade. “For the producers who are part of the programme, looking towards audit outcomes and results, it’s clear that hats and sunscreen lotion are becoming part of personal protective equipment. It is not compulsory but as an example, it is becoming part of the risk analysis of a farm,” she pointed out.  “Agri-workers start earlier in the mornings to avoid the heat – again, legislation and the Siza standard make provision to monitor working hours, no matter when they start or when they work. If they work a night shift there is legislation included in the Siza standard to allow for a night shift allowance and the same is relevant to day shifts,” Louw stated. Caradee Wright from the Medical Research Council said employers needed to be more aware of temperature and sun exposure health risks — and how such risks affected productivity. “For sun exposure, there is no legislation or guideline in South Africa to protect against ocular and skin exposure, for example against sunburn, skin cancer and cataracts,” she noted.

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