Dr Kerstin Zander and her team from the Northern Institute at Charles Darwin University have conducted a study into the impact of heat stress on workplace productivity. The study suggests that heat stress costs the Australian economy $6.9 billion a year. That equates to about $728 for every working person between 18 and 65.
The study, published in the journal Nature Climate Change, points to the significant impact that climate change has had on the rising average temperatures of Australian summers, and suggests that this has had a follow on effect on overall workplace productivity. The study even suggests that heat stress could have as big an impact as many chronic diseases.
Given that productivity improvement is one of the keys to economic growth, rising temperatures can be viewed as an increasing threat to our economy. The future could see employers subsidising worker air-conditioning in the home and also build WHS practices that train employees to appropriately cope with heat stress.