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Workplace heat stress, health and productivity – an increasing challenge for low and middle-income countries during climate change

Kjellstrom, Tord; Holmer, Ingvar; Lemke, Bruno

Description

BACKGROUND Global climate change is already increasing the average temperature and direct heat exposure in many places around the world. OBJECTIVES To assess the potential impact on occupational health and work capacity for people exposed at work to increasing heat due to climate change. DESIGN A brief review of basic thermal physiology mechanisms, occupational heat exposure guidelines and heat exposure changes in selected cities. RESULTS In countries with very hot seasons, workers are already...[Show more]

dc.contributor.authorKjellstrom, Tord
dc.contributor.authorHolmer, Ingvar
dc.contributor.authorLemke, Bruno
dc.date.accessioned2015-12-14T01:07:36Z
dc.date.available2015-12-14T01:07:36Z
dc.identifier.issn1654-9716
dc.identifier.urihttp://hdl.handle.net/1885/95002
dc.description.abstractBACKGROUND Global climate change is already increasing the average temperature and direct heat exposure in many places around the world. OBJECTIVES To assess the potential impact on occupational health and work capacity for people exposed at work to increasing heat due to climate change. DESIGN A brief review of basic thermal physiology mechanisms, occupational heat exposure guidelines and heat exposure changes in selected cities. RESULTS In countries with very hot seasons, workers are already affected by working environments hotter than that with which human physiological mechanisms can cope. To protect workers from excessive heat, a number of heat exposure indices have been developed. One that is commonly used in occupational health is the Wet Bulb Globe Temperature (WBGT). We use WBGT to illustrate assessing the proportion of a working hour during which a worker can sustain work and the proportion of that same working hour that (s)he needs to rest to cool the body down and maintain core body temperature below 38 degrees C. Using this proportion a 'work capacity' estimate was calculated for selected heat exposure levels and work intensity levels. The work capacity rapidly reduces as the WBGT exceeds 26-30 degrees C and this can be used to estimate the impact of increasing heat exposure as a result of climate change in tropical countries. CONCLUSIONS One result of climate change is a reduced work capacity in heat-exposed jobs and greater difficulty in achieving economic and social development in the countries affected by this somewhat neglected impact of climate change.
dc.description.sponsorshipThe research was supported by funds from the Australian National University and Lund University.
dc.format6 pages
dc.publisherCo-Action Publishing
dc.rights© 2009 Tord Kjellstrom et al. This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons AttributionNoncommercial 3.0 Unported License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/3.0/), permitting all non-commercial use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
dc.sourceGlobal Health Action
dc.subjectclimate change
dc.subjectheat
dc.subjectoccupational health
dc.subjectproductivity
dc.subjectwork
dc.titleWorkplace heat stress, health and productivity – an increasing challenge for low and middle-income countries during climate change
dc.typeJournal article
local.description.notesImported from ARIES.
local.identifier.citationvolume2
dcterms.dateAccepted2009-09-13
dc.date.issued2009
local.identifier.absfor111705
local.identifier.ariespublicationu4637548xPUB54
local.publisher.urlhttp://www.co-action.net/
local.type.statusPublished Version
local.contributor.affiliationKjellstrom, Tord, College of Medicine, Biology and Environment, CMBE Research School of Population Health, Natl Centre for Epidemiology & Population Health, The Australian National University
local.contributor.affiliationHolmer, Ingvar, Lund University, Sweden
local.contributor.affiliationLemke, Bruno, Nelson-Marlborough Institute of Technology, New Zealand
local.identifier.essn1654-9880
local.bibliographicCitation.issue1
local.identifier.doi10.3402/gha.v2i0.2047
dc.date.updated2016-02-24T11:16:44Z
local.identifier.scopusID2-s2.0-74949122039
local.identifier.thomsonID000208160000030
CollectionsANU Research Publications

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