Background: Despite increasing concerns about the health effects of climate change, the extent to which workers are affected by hot weather is not well documented. This study aims to investigate the association between high temperatures and work-related injuries using data from a large subtropical city in China.
Methods: We used workers’ compensation claims to identify work-related injuries in Guangzhou, China during 2011-2012. To feature the heat effect, the study period was restricted to the warm seasons in Guangzhou (1 May-31 October). We conducted a time-stratified case-crossover study to examine the association between ambient outdoor temperatures, including daily maximum and minimum temperatures, and cases of work-related injury. The relationships were assessed using conditional Poisson regression models.
Results: Overall, a total of 5418 workers’ compensation claims were included over the study period. Both maximum and minimum temperatures were significantly associated with work-related injuries, but associations varied by subgroup. One °C increase in maximum temperature was associated with a 1.4% (RR = 1.014, 95%CIs 1.012-1.017) increase in daily injury claims. Significant associations were seen for male and middle-aged workers, workers in small and medium-sized enterprises, and those working in manufacturing sector. And 1 °C increase in minimum temperature was associated with 1.7% (RR = 1.017, 95%CIs 1.012-1.021) increase in daily injury claims. Significant associations were observed for female and middle-aged workers, workers in large-sized enterprises, and those working in transport and construction sectors.
Conclusions: We found a higher risk of work-related injuries due to hot weather in Guangzhou, China. This study provides important epidemiological evidence for policy-makers and industry that may assist in the formulation of occupational safety and climate adaptation strategies.