Heat and worker health

Andrew Ireland, David Johnston, Rachel Knott

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review


Extreme heat negatively impacts cognition, learning, and task performance. With increasing global temperatures, workers may therefore be at increased risk of work-related injuries and illness. This study estimates the effects of temperature on worker health using records spanning 1985–2020 from an Australian mandatory insurance scheme. High temperatures are found to cause significantly more claims, particularly among manual workers in outdoor-based industries. These adverse effects have not diminished across time, with the largest effect observed for the 2015–2020 period, indicating increasing vulnerability to heat. Within occupations, the workers most adversely affected by heat are female, older-aged and higher-earning. Finally, results from firm-level panel analyses show that the percentage increase in claims on hot days is largest at "safer" firms.

Original languageEnglish
Article number102800
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Health Economics
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2023


  • Adaptation
  • Climate change
  • Labor
  • Occupational health & safety
  • Temperature

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