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Publication . Article . 2018

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

Tjaša Pogačar; Ana Casanueva; Katja Kozjek; Urša Ciuha; Igor B. Mekjavic; Lučka Kajfež Bogataj; Zalika Črepinšek;
Open Access
Published: 01 Jan 2018
Publisher: Springer
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. Electronic supplementary material The online version of this article (10.1007/s00484-018-1530-6) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
Subjects by Vocabulary

Microsoft Academic Graph classification: Productivity Hot days Mean radiant temperature Environmental science Heat stress Wet-bulb globe temperature Climate change Temperate climate Manufacturing business.industry business Toxicology

Universal Decimal Classification: udc:551.58


Heat stress, Hot day, Wet bulb globe temperature, Occupational health, Climate change, Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis, Atmospheric Science, Ecology, Original Paper, Heat stress, Hot day, Wet bulb globe temperature, Occupational health, Climate change, vročinski stres, vroči dnevi, zdravje, delovno mesto, delavci, klimatske spremembe

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Funded by
Integrated inter-sector framework to increase the thermal resilience of European workers in the context of global warming
  • Funder: European Commission (EC)
  • Project Code: 668786
  • Funding stream: H2020 | RIA
Validated by funder
Related to Research communities
Energy Research