This protocol was developed (Kjellstrom et al., 2009) for the Hothaps program (High Occupational Temperature Health and Productivity Suppression) and it describes five components of studies of heat exposure and effects in workplace settings. Clicking on the link will take you to a detailed pdf file.
1. Pilot study for Hothaps field studies
The pilot study describes the general heat exposure situation for people in the location of the study (district, province, country), makes initial comments on how people cope with heat, and tentatively identifies occupational and other groups that might already be affected by heat.
2. Basic local heat monitoring and occupational exposure assessment
This study component describes heat exposure in selected workplaces, representative of common types of work in the places where the field studies are carried out. The basic contributors to human heat exposure are air temperature and humidity, wind speed and heat radiation. A commonly used heat stress index is Wet Bulb Globe Temperature (WBGT) that can be interpreted in terms of occupational health risks and decreased work capacity due to heat stress.
3. Exploratory qualitative study of occupational heat impacts and preventive approaches
In this component questionnaires are used to collect information about the heat exposure situation and impacts on health and work capacity in different workplaces. This will identify ways in which people experience impacts of heat on health and productivity, and which measures people take to reduce the impacts of heat.
4. Quantitative study of occupational health impacts, work capacity and prevention
This study component measures the actual heat exposures, health impacts and work outputs during periods of different levels of heat exposure in selected workplaces. Occupation types to include are those that are common in the study location and are vulnerable to heat exposure as identified in the pilot study or the qualitative study. The quantitative study provides exposure response relationships for effects of heat exposure and can be used to quantify the effectiveness of different methods to reduce heat exposure and impact.
5. Health and economic impact assessment of local climate change
In this component the relationship between heat exposure and occupational health and work capacity is estimated from the new field study data and international guidelines for maximum safe exposures. With the documented exposure-response relationships and local demographic and labor force data it will be possible to estimate the heat stress impacts not only on individuals but also on a population at local or national level. Statistical distributions of exposure and incidence of effects can be established and used in the impact assessments.
These protocols can be used by anyone doing research into the effects of heat on workers. They can be carried out separately or in combination. The results of the local studies can be used to improve occupational health protection actions and can contribute to the global assessments of climate change impacts.