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The effect of hot days on occupational heat stress in the manufacturing industry: implications for workers’ well-being and productivity

Revista: International Journal of Biometeorology
Año: 2018   Volumen: 62
Página inicial: 1251   Última página: 1264
Estado: Publicado
En este estado desde: 14 Mar 2018
Enlace al PDF: https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007%2Fs00484-018-1530-6
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s00484-018-1530-6
Pogačar, T., , Kozjek. K., Ciuha, U., Mekjavić, I.B., Kajfež Bogataj, L., Črepinšek, Z.

Climate change is expected to exacerbate heat stress at the workplace in temperate regions, such as Slovenia. It is therefore of paramount importance to study present and future summer heat conditions and analyze the impact of heat on workers. A set of climate indices based on summer mean (Tmean) and maximum (Tmax) air temperatures, such as the number of hot days (HD: Tmax above 30 °C), and Wet Bulb Globe Temperature (WBGT) were used to account for heat conditions in Slovenia at six locations in the period 1981–2010. Observed trends (1961–2011) of Tmean and Tmax in July were positive, being larger in the eastern part of the country. Climate change projections showed an increase up to 4.5 °C for mean temperature and 35 days for HD by the end of the twenty-first century under the high emission scenario. The increase in WBGT was smaller, although sufficiently high to increase the frequency of days with a high risk of heat stress up to an average of a third of the summer days. A case study performed at a Slovenian automobile parts manufacturing plant revealed non-optimal working conditions during summer 2016 (WBGT mainly between 20 and 25 °C). A survey conducted on 400 workers revealed that 96% perceived the temperature conditions as unsuitable, and 56% experienced headaches and fatigue. Given these conditions and climate change projections, the escalating problem of heat is worrisome. The European Commission initiated a program of research within the Horizon 2020 program to develop a heat warning system for European workers and employers, which will incorporate case-specific solutions to mitigate heat stress.

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