05 Oct Quantifying the impact of heat on human physical work capacity; part IV: interactions between work duration and heat stress severity
Smallcombe JW, Foster J, Hodder SG, Jay O, Flouris AD, Havenith G. Quantifying the impact of heat on human physical work capacity; part IV: interactions between work duration and heat stress severity. Int J Biometeorol. 2022 Oct 5. doi: 10.1007/s00484-022-02370-7. Epub ahead of print. PMID: 36197554.
High workplace temperatures negatively impact physical work capacity (PWC). Although PWC loss models with heat based on 1-h exposures are available, it is unclear if further adjustments are required to accommodate repeated work/rest cycles over the course of a full work shift. Therefore, we examined the impact of heat stress exposure on human PWC during a simulated work shift consisting of six 1-h work-rest cycles.
Nine healthy males completed six 50-min work bouts, separated by 10-min rest intervals and an extended lunch break, on four separate occasions: once in a cool environment (15 °C/50% RH) and in three different air temperature and relative humidity combinations (moderate, 35 °C/50% RH; hot, 40 °C/50% RH; and very hot, 40 °C/70%). To mimic moderate to heavy workload, work was performed on a treadmill at a fixed heart rate of 130 beats·min-1. During each work bout, PWC was quantified as the kilojoules expended above resting levels.
Over the shift, work output per cycle decreased, even in the cool climate, with the biggest decrement after the lunch break and meal consumption. Expressing PWC relative to that achieved in the cool environment for the same work duration, there was an additional 5(± 4)%, 7(± 6)%, and 16(± 7)% decrease in PWC when work was performed across a full work shift for the moderate, hot, and very hot condition respectively, compared with 1-h projections. Empirical models to predict PWC based on the level of heat stress (Wet-Bulb Globe Temperature, Universal Thermal Climate Index, Psychrometric Wet-Bulb Temperature, Humidex, and Heat Index) and the number of work cycles performed are presented.
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