For every 1 deg C increase in temperature above 27 deg C on a hot day in India, productivity of workers declines by as much as 4%, according to a new study.  Annual average temperature in India has increased 2 deg C over 200 years to 2006, and is predicted to risefurther by 1.5-2.0 deg C by 2030.

Simply put, this means if a worker is packing 100 boxes of shoes in day at 27 deg C, he/she will pack only 96 boxes on a day when temperature is 28 deg C.

Small industries such as cloth-weaving units, which cannot afford air-conditioning, are most vulnerable to production losses due to rise in temperature, as per the August 30, 2018, study prepared by the Energy Policy Institute at the University of Chicago (EPIC), a think-tank.

Hotter states more vulnerable to productivity losses

Workers of “hotter regions” such as Delhi and Gujarat–together contributing about 10% of the country’s gross domestic product (on prices of 2014-15)–are likely to see a 4% decline in the productivity on hot day against a 2% decline in the efficiency of the workers in “milder climate” of South and Central India, according to the study.

Researchers looked at both labour-intensive and highly automated manufacturing processes. In the first category, they found that the productivity of workers engaged in cloth weaving or garment manufacturing dropped by as much as 4% per degree as temperatures rose above 27 deg C, as per the study.

However, when studying workers in the steel industry who were operating in plants with highly automated production, they found that productivity did not fall when it got hot outside, it said.

Temperature rise increasing absenteeism

A 1 deg C increase in the 10-day temperature average raises the probability of absenteeism by 5%, the study said. Absenteeism increases in both labour-intensive and automated-manufacturing processes.

Even if employers use air-conditioning, it will not….