Delaware Climate-Ready Workforce Pilot Project

As part of Delaware’s Climate-Ready Workforce Pilot Project, this report recommends strategies to address climate-related risks to indoor and outdoor workers who are exposed to extreme temperatures, storms, flooding, as well as indirect impacts related to air quality, vector-borne disease, and water-related illness. Written in response to the Climate Framework for Delaware, the report addresses concerns about climate-related threats to workers across state agencies, and offers recommendations related to policy development and implementation. The pilot team responsible for the report represented eleven different divisions across five state agencies - including the Department of Transportation, the Department of Health and Social Services, the Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control, the Department of Safety and Homeland Security and the Office of Management and Budget.

The report identifies six types of environments that are “climate-exposed.” These include indoor unconditioned spaces, indoor confined spaces, outdoor urban spaces, outdoor suburban areas, in heavy equipment or another type of vehicle, and in outdoor natural areas. The study methods involved reviewing relevant existing policies, interviewing staff responsible for the implementation of such policies, and surveying staff considered at-risk for climate impacts. A summary of findings and recommendations based off of the pilot program’s investigations are detailed in Sections 3 and 4. The report categorizes its assessment of the current impacts of climate change within the state and offers recommendations in the following five categories:

Policy guidance

The report acknowledges that climate-related additions to existing health and safety policies should be “built on a foundation of core safety and health policies and procedures.” However it also recognizes that the details and implementation of policies will vary a great deal across agencies.

Roles and responsibilities

The surveys indicated that while supervisors do sometimes inform workers about existing health policies, more clarity regarding staff responsibilities related to health policy development, implementation, training, and review is needed.

Communications and training

Increased communications and training are recommended. Interest in learning more about existing policies was evident in survey responses, and results indicated that many state employees were not aware of where they could access information related to health and safety policies.

Implementation and enforcement

The report recommends adding more accountability measures and streamlining implementation processes to incorporate feedback in updates to agency policies.

Evaluation and improvement

Concerns listed in the report point to insufficient engagement with employees and unions. To address this, the report calls for increased cross-agency or interagency cooperation to share best practices.

Appendix A includes examples from outside of the state that could be useful in Delaware. These include relevant training programs, tick and Lymes disease prevention measures, and formalized agreements and coordination between agencies. Though climate-related risks are shifting over time, this pilot project makes clear many of these agencies’ employees, like those across the state, are already dealing with the impacts of climate change at work.

 

Publication Date: June 30, 2017

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