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The manufacturing sector had the largest number of workers by industry who died or took leave after suffering from heatstroke at work in Japan in 2019, labor ministry data shows.

It was the first time for the manufacturing sector to outpace the construction industry in the number of heatstroke sufferers in the past 10 years.

The ministry stressed the importance of preventive measures even for those working indoors.

According to the ministry, a total of 180 workers took four or more days off work due to heatstroke last year in the manufacturing sector. The total number of deaths came to four.

In the construction sector, 143 people took similar leave, and the death toll stood at 10.

In 2018, when record heat waves hit the country, the total number of heatstroke sufferers who took leave or died in the construction industry exceeded those of the manufacturers.

The number of workers in the manufacturing industry who took time off work came to 216 and those who died stood at five. Meanwhile, the construction sector saw 229 workers take leave and 10 workers die.

The 2019 data highlighted indoor heatstroke. At least 66.3 percent of all heatstroke cases in the manufacturing industry apparently occurred during indoor work.

The ministry said indoor heatstroke occurred in environments of high temperature and high humidity and when air conditioner temperatures were raised drastically.

Only 4.6 percent of all heatstroke cases in the construction industry happened indoors.

“Manufacturers may be influenced by a preconception that they will be safe (from heatstroke) as they work indoors, when compared with the construction sector, whose staff work under the blazing sun,” a ministry official said.

The official warned that the risk of heatstroke is not low even indoors in the middle of the summer.

The ministry called on companies to take adequate measures, including compiling work plans based on wet-bulb globe temperatures, a key measure of heat stress, and preparing break rooms equipped with air conditioners.

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