Quebec Researchers Study Summer Temperatures and Workers' Health, Safety

Published March 1, 2017

​Researchers from IRSST, a nonprofit scientific research organization in Quebec, report a positive association between an increase of daily outdoor temperatures and the estimated daily risk of heat-related health problems and work-related accidents in the province.

“The strength of these associations varies with worker age, industrial sector and occupational category, and exposure to a few hot days in a row seems to have a cumulative effect on the risk of heat-related illnesses,” the researchers conclude. “The results of this study suggest that occupational injury data could serve as sentinel indicators for identifying subgroups of workers at greater risk of suffering the effects of summer heat.”

The study focused on summer temperatures, ozone concentrations, and occupational injuries accepted by Quebec’s workers’ compensation board in connection with overexposure to heat. According to IRSST, this study is the first to examine the statistical relationship between outdoor temperature and the incidence of illness or accidents among workers in conditions similar to those in Quebec. In addition to assessing the association between summer temperatures and occupational injuries, IRSST researchers also developed statistical models to explore the association between daily summer levels of tropospheric ozone and occupational injury claims for acute respiratory illnesses accepted for compensation.

One goal of the study was to identify subpopulations, industries, and occupations most at risk for occupational injuries related to heat or tropospheric ozone concentrations. According to the report, laboring and materials-handling occupations, including jobs in metal processing, firefighting, and truck driving, accounted for the highest proportion of accepted injuries.

The full report is available for download via IRSST’s website.