Hot topic: BWI releases heat report to help workers secure their health and safety

In anticipation of International Workers’ Memorial Day on 28 April, the Building and Wood Workers' International (BWI) launched a significant initiative. Titled “Adapting to the Heat: Existing Global Responses for Workers in Construction, Building Materials, Wood, and Forestry Industries,” BWI's latest publication aims to equip affiliates with tools to advocate for worker protections amid rising temperatures. Drawing from the experiences of BWI affiliates in social dialogue and collective bargaining, and a review of existing national, regional and local regulations, the report offers insights to engage with employers and governments effectively.

This release builds on BWI’s year-long campaign, "Heat-up Workers’ Rights, Not the Planet!", which coincided in the past few years with record-breaking temperature spikes attributed to the climate crisis. Focusing on health and safety amid extreme weather conditions, the campaign highlighted the urgent need for improved working conditions. This 2024, BWI integrates its campaign for climate justice with its International Workers’ Memorial Day advocacy which carries the message: "Enough is Enough: Let’s Talk Hazards, underscoring the serious risks faced by workers in various sectors, especially concerning extreme heat. This complements the decision of the International Labour Organisation (ILO) to focus its observance of IWMD on the impact of the climate crisis, which it said affects more than 70 percent of the global workforce.

The report advocates for a multifaceted approach, combining legislative action, collective bargaining, and proactive union-employer joint initiatives to ensure worker well-being and industry standards. Emphasising the increasing human rights risks, liabilities and financial losses from from heat stress mis-management, it calls for joint efforts between trade unions, employers, and governments to enact protective measures and enhance resilience in extreme weather conditions. Recommendations and bargaining provisions outlined in the report include establishing maximum temperature thresholds, providing social protection measures, and investing in worker training and awareness programs.

Download the report.