Effect of a Simulated Heat Wave on Physiological Strain and Labour Productivity

Ioannou LG, Mantzios K, Tsoutsoubi L, Panagiotaki Z, Kapnia AK, Ciuha U, Nybo L, Flouris AD, Mekjavic IB. Effect of a Simulated Heat Wave on Physiological Strain and Labour Productivity. Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2021 Mar 15;18(6):3011. doi: 10.3390/ijerph18063011.

Abstract
Background: The aim of the study was to investigate the effect of a simulated heat-wave on the labour productivity and physiological strain experienced by workers. Methods: Seven males were confined for ten days in controlled ambient conditions. A familiarisation day was followed by three (pre, during, and post-heat-wave) 3-day periods. During each day volunteers participated in a simulated work-shift incorporating two physical activity sessions each followed by a session of assembly line task. Conditions were hot (work: 35.4 °C; rest: 26.3 °C) during, and temperate (work: 25.4 °C; rest: 22.3 °C) pre and post the simulated heat-wave. Physiological, biological, behavioural, and subjective data were collected throughout the study. Results: The simulated heat-wave undermined human capacity for work by increasing the number of mistakes committed, time spent on unplanned breaks, and the physiological strain experienced by the participants. Early adaptations were able to mitigate the observed implications on the second and third days of the heat-wave, as well as impacting positively on the post-heat-wave period. Conclusions: Here, we show for first time that a controlled simulated heat-wave increases workers’ physiological strain and reduces labour productivity on the first day, but it promotes adaptations mitigating the observed implications during the subsequent days.
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https://www.mdpi.com/1660-4601/18/6/3011