The effects of ambient temperatures on the risk of work-related injuries and illnesses: Evidence from Adelaide, Australia 2003-2013

Blesson Varghese, Adrian Barnett, Alana Hansen, P. Bi, Scott Hanson-Easey, Jane Heyworth, Malcolm Sim, Dino Pisaniello

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

26 Citations (Scopus)


Background: The thermal environment can directly affect workers’ occupational health and safety, and act as a contributing factor to injury or illness. However, the literature addressing risks posed by varying temperatures on work-related injuries and illnesses is limited. Objectives: To examine the occupational injury and illness risk profiles for hot and cold conditions. Methods: Daily numbers of workers’ compensation claims in Adelaide, South Australia from 2003 to 2013 (n = 224,631) were sourced together with daily weather data. The impacts of maximum daily temperature on the risk of work-related injuries and illnesses was assessed using a time-stratified case-crossover study design combined with a distributed lag non-linear model. Results: The minimum number of workers’ compensation claims occurred when the maximum daily temperature was 25 °C. Compared with this optimal temperature, extremely hot temperatures (99th percentile) were associated with an increase in overall claims (RR: 1.30, 95%CI: 1.18–1.44) whereas a non-significant increase was observed with extremely cold temperatures (1st percentile, RR: 1.10 (95%CI: 0.99–1.21). Heat exposure had an acute effect on workers’ injuries whereas cold conditions resulted in delayed effects. Moderate temperatures were associated with a greater injury burden than extreme temperatures. Conclusion: Days of very high temperatures were associated with the greatest risks of occupational injuries; whereas moderate temperatures, which occur more commonly, have the greatest burden. These findings suggest that the broader range of thermal conditions should be considered in workplace injury and illness prevention strategies. © 2018 Elsevier Inc.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)101-109
Number of pages9
JournalEnvironmental Research
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2019


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