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If a worker is undertaking physically demanding work in a thermally challenging environment and is completely insulated as a result of the personal protective clothing they must wear, their body temperature is likely to rise at a rate of 1degC per hour Parsons, According to Occupational Safety and Health Administration, OSHA, undated , there are a variety of work processes with the potential to put menopausal women at increased risk.

These include, but are not restricted to, work in foundries, brick-firing, ceramic plants, glass making facilities, and commercial kitchens. The degree of risk is increased in particularly for those whose job tasks require them to wear heavy or occlusive personal protective equipment including the military and fire and rescue personnel.

The effects are exacerbated during hot weather. Employers have a duty of care to ensure the health and safety of their workforce under S2 of the Health and Safety at Work Act Associated with this is the requirement to undertake risk assessments imposed by Regulation 3 of the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations Should a thermal hazard be identified employers must make arrangements to reduce the risk. Part of this would be raising awareness of possible adverse health effects of heat exposure from heat exhaustion to the more serious heat collapse.

Symptoms of heat exhaustion are those associated with dehydration including polydipsia significant thirst and headaches. Symptoms may progress to include nausea, cramps, vertigo and fainting, the latter being particularly dangerous whilst operating machinery or working at heights. If action is not taken to enhance hydration and reduce the body temperature symptoms may worsen leading to heat stroke HSE This constitutes a medical emergency.

Scholars argue that women have estrus or sexual heat.

Symptoms of heat stroke include tachycardia, confusion, convulsions and loss of consciousness. The body temperature must be cooled as a matter of urgency to avoid the prospect of respirator and cardiac arrest. Employers may not have considered the needs of menopausal women when managing workplace thermal challenges.


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Although one in every women experience the menopause before the age of 40, it generally occurs between the ages of 45 to 55 and is when a woman stops menstruating and is no longer able to get pregnant naturally. Some eight in every 10 women will have additional symptoms some time before menstruation ceases. Common symptoms which may impact on them in the workplace include: hot flushes, night sweats and difficulty sleeping, headaches, low mood or anxiety, palpitations, joint pains and stiffness, reduced muscle mass and recurrent urinary tract infections NHS Choices These symptoms will pose difficulties for all women but particularly so for those undertaking physically demanding tasks in a thermally challenging environment.

For a woman who enters the peak of the menopause at the age of 55, she may have had symptoms before that age and they may continue up to the time she retires from work. Project Aware presents real-life experiences of hundreds of women and lists 35 symptoms associated with the menopause. Hot flushes are the most challenging symptom for them, particularly in relation to maintaining thermal comfort and this may exacerbate the effects of heat stress. To assist employers in supporting women who are experiencing the menopause, the Faculty of Occupational Medicine FOM published guidance regarding the effects of menopause in the workplace.

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This served to make the topic current and bringing it to the attention of the public, employers and occupational health professionals. FOM highlights that employers should review control of workplace temperature and ventilation and endeavour to adapt these to meet individual needs. The same guidance adds that, where uniforms are compulsory, flexibility in use of thermally comfortable fabrics, optional layers and being allowed to remove jackets whilst at work may be helpful.

Griffiths et al explored the menopausal symptom experiences of women aged between 45 and These women are therefore working through a difficult stage of their life and this is rarely discussed.

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Women Pastoralists Feel Heat of Climate Change | Inter Press Service

There is a strong case to include menopause on the health and safety risk assessment agenda in the workplace, and to increase compliance with the laws and regulations as stated below for this generally forgotten group of workers. The Equality Act provides a legal framework that protects the rights of individuals. For women who are having health problems associated with the menopause which impact on them in the workplace the protected characteristics of age, gender and disability can be applied.

Legal obligations relating to the menopause should be addressed by employers. This should be considered as a matter of urgency as it is likely that other cases will now follow. Griffiths et al refers to four overarching elements in relation to their duty of care and managing the health risks of the thermal environment for women experiencing symptoms associated with the menopause:. Studies between and are consistent in their recommendations to employers and how best they can support women going through menopause Jack et al, and complement the stance of Griffiths et al highlighted above.

These studies confirm that employers can ensure their organisation is supportive of women who are experiencing difficult symptoms of menopause by:. Work processes should be managed to ensure that the health and safety of employees is not compromised. Rescheduling work times for cooler times of the day or allowing employees to have flexible hours may be the easiest strategy to implement.

If temperatures cannot be reduced, then ventilation should be adequate, regular breaks and job task rotation can be put in place. Employers should be cognizant that working in indoor temperatures above 28degC for prolonged periods results in a reduction in productivity CIBSE with a negative effect on profitability as a result. CIBSE highlights the importance of individuals having control over their immediate thermal environment, and it should be recognised that ambient temperature alone is insufficient in determining thermal comfort, other influences include relative humidity and air movement.

Without air conditioning it may be difficult to resolve high levels of relative humidity but increasing ventilation will assist in making this more tolerable. In areas with low levels of air movement, the local use of appropriately sized fans will increase air movement, which can have the same effect of reducing temperature by 2degC.

It may be necessary to remove the employee from sources of heat.


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Employers should take the impact of menopause seriously. In order to meet their legal obligations, employers must include risk assessments for the work processes undertaken by this group of workers. They should consider the effects of the menopause on middle-aged workers in the same way as they would consider the effects of pregnancy on their younger colleagues. In pastoralist communities, livestock is a status symbol. Africa is highly vulnerable to climate change. Countries hard hit by land degradation and desertification include Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger.

Globally, nearly million nomadic pastoralists make their livelihoods in remote and harsh environments where conventional farming is limited or not possible, according to the International Fund for Agricultural Development IFAD. That programme has provided some relief to women pastoralists.

UN Women is also mobilizing efforts to secure land tenure for women. It is working with the Standard Bank of Africa to help African women overcome barriers in the agriculture sector such as providing access to credit. Technology is key to saving the water that disappears after a torrential rainfall, says Leina.

Windmill technology, for instance, could allow women to access water feet underground.

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She hopes authorities can help. Houses in some rural areas of Kenya have thatched roofs that cannot channel water to household water tanks in the way that zinc rooftops can. The situation for women pastoralists is grim, which is why Leina hopes raising awareness of how climate change is threatening their livelihoods may get increased attention—and support—of the Kenyan government and its international partners. All rights reserved.

Agnes Leina. Republish Print.