Partnerships for Environmental Public Health (PEPH)

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Heat Stress and Worker Health

June 14, 2024

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Interviewee: Kevin Riley, Ph.D.

In this episode, Kevin Riley, Ph.D., talks about the health risks of working in extreme heat and highlights tools employers and workers can use to prevent heat-related illness in the workplace.

Heat Stress and Worker Health

As temperatures rise due to climate change, workers are facing hotter conditions. Workers in various outdoor and indoor settings are vulnerable to heat stress, which can lead to heat-related illnesses. Several factors contribute to the risk of heat stress for workers, including high temperatures, physical exertion, poor ventilation, and more. Training employers and workers about on-the-job heat hazards is critical to protecting workers’ health and safety in a warming world.

The NIEHS Worker Training Program (WTP) funds a network of nonprofit organizations across the U.S. to train and educate workers about heat stress, how it affects their health and safety, and how it can be prevented. To bolster the network’s training efforts, WTP launched the Heat Stress Prevention Toolkit in summer 2024. The toolkit will feature several resources to educate workers, including disaster response and recovery workers, an often-overlooked population.

In this episode, WTP grant recipient Kevin Riley, Ph.D., talks about the health risks of working in extreme heat and offers tips for protecting workers from heat stress. He also highlights tools employers and workers can use to prevent heat-related illness in the workplace.

Interviewee:

Kevin Riley, Ph.D.

Kevin Riley, Ph.D., is the director of the Labor Occupational Safety and Health Program at the University of California, Los Angeles. In this role, he leads efforts to investigate job hazards among workers in various industries and sectors, with the goal of informing public policy and improving workplace health and safety programs.

Riley is also the principal investigator for the Western Region Universities Consortium, which is funded by the NIEHS WTP. The consortium provides health and safety education to workers involved in construction, hazardous waste removal, and disaster response.

Riley’s research has examined the injury experiences of workers in the low-wage labor market, community-level associations between heat-related hospitalizations and outdoor work, and workers’ compensation eligibility and access among residential day laborers and domestic workers.

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