There are direct and indirect health and performance detriments associated with occupational heat stress. This presentation will review methods and tools that can be used to examine physiological responses to occupational heat stress and highlight future directions for practice and research.
Technological advancements have opened new opportunities for the capture and monitoring of physiological responses and metrics, particularly in the field. Continued validation of new technologies is necessary to benchmark the reliability and validity of field-based measures and methods.
Measures of body temperature, metabolic workload, hydration status and psychophysiological responses can yield important information as to the strain induced from working in a hot environment. While there are a range of measurement techniques and methods to measure or estimate physiological responses, there are limitations that must be considered. These include the sensitivity, reliability and practicality of proposed measures. For example, gastro-intestinal temperature measures via a telemetric pill allows for direct, wireless, non-invasive measurement of deep internal temperature. However, water ingestion can influence telemetric pill readings while it remains in the stomach and the expense of such a system makes it prohibitive to use in large cohorts.
Continued validation of new technologies is necessary to benchmark the reliability and validity of field-based measures and methods with the ultimate goal being to better quantify exposure-response and exposure-effect relationships for workers’ health, wellbeing and productivity. Importantly, more comprehensive assessments of the heat strain experienced by different populations would aid the interpretation of climate change impact on worker´s health at a local and global level.
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