Extreme heat comes with additional workplace hazards and health risks, requiring appropriate management to avoid heat-related diseases and fatalities.
Employers and workers should monitor environment conditions through using indices such as the Thermal Work Limit in order to manage the risk heat stress.
Cooling and hydration strategies should also be in place to avoid the dangers that hot and humid work environments pose.
While we’ve already covered some of the coldest places to work, here are four of the hottest environments where people are using their trades around the world.
Death Valley, United States
The aptly named Death Valley in eastern California is one of the hottest places on earth, claiming the world’s highest air temperature ever recorded at 56.7°C in 1913.
Average temperatures in summer reach 47°C, making it incredibly dangerous for those unprepared for the heat.
Maintenance staff at the Death Valley National Park have found themselves changing tires, paving roads, driving trucks and even recovering the bodies of tourists and coworkers in temperatures that range from 43–54°C.
To stay safe, workers start early in the morning to try and avoid the worst heat, while also staying hydrated and wearing appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE).
Dallol in the Danakil Depression holds the record for the highest average annual temperature at 34.4°C, alongside only 100–200mm of rainfall each year.
The region includes volcanoes, lava lakes, hydrothermal fields, great salt pans, hot springs and geysers, while also being located in the East African Rift Valley with its tectonic plate activity.
Although the landscape may seem inhospitable, the nomadic Afar people have occupied it for centuries, trading in the region’s valuable salt.
The workers use basic picks and axes to cut slabs and then transport them on the backs of camels and donkeys to local towns, sometimes as far as a week’s walk away.
While dehydration and heat stroke are a concern, the Afar peoples’ bodies have adapted to the heat and dryness to the point where they need less food and water than the average person.
In June 2019, the WMA officially accepted a 2016 record in Mitribah, Kuwait of 53.9°C as the third hottest temperature measured on earth and the highest ever recorded in continental Asia.
With temperatures steadily increasing across the country, summer months frequently reach 50°C or more.
In the capital, Kuwait City, outdoor work is banned between 12pm and 4pm on building sites throughout the city, however this is often ignored.
With migrants accounting for nearly 70 per cent of the population, many of whom work in the construction industry, workers fear the loss of income if they refuse to continue laboring in extreme heat.
The Middle East
Bandar Mahshahr in Iran recorded the second highest heat index at 74°C in 2015, after Dhahran in Saudi Arabia, which recorded 81.1°C in 2003.
Unlike air temperature alone, the heat index measures the apparent temperature, or how hot it feels to the body, based on a combined calculation of humidity and air temperature.
While official records don’t exist for heat indexes, these sweltering temperatures appear to be the highest ever recorded on earth.
The Middle East, in general is home to some of the hottest locations on earth, with the 2015 heatwave leading the Iraqi government to declare a four-day public holiday to help people cope with the heat.
Similarly, in 2017 when another heat wave swept the region, temperatures in Baghdad climbed towards 51°C.
The Iraqi government was again forced to declare a mandatory holiday and send civil servants home, while across the region, birds dropped from the sky and electricity networks were stretched to breaking point.