Video | Business Headlines | Internet | Science | Scientific Ethics | Technology | Search

 


Heat Stress Research Aimed at Helping Workers

Heat Stress Research Aimed at Helping Workers

A team of Nelson-based researchers hopes their work will one day lead to improvements in the lives of workers in some of the world’s hottest places.

The Hothaps research team is led by Professor Tord Kjellstrom and includes Nelson Marlborough Institute of Technology (NMIT) tutors Bruno Lemke and Matthias Otto as well as Drs Olivia Hyatt, Chris Freyberg and Dave Briggs.

They’ve been working together for several years and have published more than 60 scientific reports on heat stress and its impact on productivity and human health. In 2013 the team travelled to Chennai, India to present their findings at a National Research Conference on Climate Change. They also presented their
findings to trainee nurses at an Indian medical university and visited some Indian factories.

Bruno Lemke is a former physicist and now a health tutor at NMIT. He explains that the main thrust of the research activity is around the effects of heat stress in the workplace – from both a health and productivity point of view.

The team uses a custom software programme developed by NMIT IT Tutor Matthias Otto to analyse massive amounts of data gathered from some of the world’s hottest places.

Bruno Lemke says about four billion people live and work in the worst heat-affected areas of the planet and climate change is increasing the environmental heat conditions in most parts of the world, including
New Zealand. In many tropical and sub-tropical countries, workers have few workplace protections and can be subject to extreme heat stress conditions. In places like the factories and sweatshops of India, the underground mines of Africa and even the cotton fields of the southern United States, workers are subjected to scorching high temperatures.

“We know from case studies and media reports that a lot of people die as a result of heat stress in the workplace in these hot places- but their deaths often aren’t tracked or properly accounted for, so no one really knows the true impact of heat stress related deaths,” says Bruno. “Basically at a body temperature above 40 degrees Celsius, the body systems start to shut down and at 42 degrees, you can get permanent brain damage and die. People can become acclimatised to hotter temperatures but at best, this only adds an extra two
degrees to what we can tolerate,” he says.

Bruno Lemke says while the team was initially focussed on heat stress from a human health point of view, it soon became clear that it would be easier to gather data from workplaces by looking at productivity and the economic outputs from businesses. “Our research has shown that in many tropical and sub-tropical areas, ten to 20 percent of annual work hours are currently ‘lost’ due to excessive heat and these losses are expected to double during this century unless effective prevention is applied.

“Even in New Zealand heat stress is already a problem for working people during the hottest days each year.

The team has carried out interviews with workers in forestry, agriculture, sheep shearing, construction and some other occupations, and they report the need for slowing down work, drinking water and taking more rest during hot days.

“We want to highlight the conditions people are working under both in New Zealand and in tropical countries in order to alert people to the need for health protection now and in the future as climate change makes the world hotter. We also want to demonstrate to employers that heat stress can result in massive productivity losses - so it’s in everyone’s best interests to try and improve conditions for workers,” he says.

Further information about the Hothaps research is available on the team’s open access website www.climatechip.org.

ENDS

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
Business Headlines | Sci-Tech Headlines

 

Final Frontier: Rocket Lab And NASA Sign Commercial Space Launch Agreement

Rocket Lab has signed a Commercial Space Launch Act Agreement with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). The agreement enables Rocket Lab to use NASA resources - including personnel, facilities and equipment - for launch and reentry efforts. More>>

ALSO:

Scoop Business: Wheeler Downplays Scope For ‘Large’ Rates Fall

Reserve Bank governor Graeme Wheeler says some market commentators are predicting further declines in interest rates that would only make sense for an economy in recession, although some easing is likely to be needed to maintain New Zealand’s economic growth. More>>

ALSO:

Ruataniwha Dam: Consent Conditions Could Mean Reduced Intensity

Legal advice sought by the Hawke’s Bay Regional Council on the Ruataniwha Dam consent conditions has confirmed that farmers who sign up to take water from the dam could be required to reduce the intensity of their farming operation to meet the catchment’s strict nitrogen limit. More>>

Health And Safety: Bill Now Sees Rules Relaxed For Small Businesses

Health and safety law reform sparked by the Pike River coalmine disaster has been reported back from the industrial relations select committee with weakened requirements on small businesses to appoint health and safety representatives and committees. More>>

ALSO:

Bearing Fruit: Annual Fruit Exports Hit $2 Billion For First Time

The value of fruit exported rose 20 percent (up $330 million) for the June 2015 year when compared with the year ended June 2014. Both higher prices and a greater quantity of exports (up 9.0 percent) contributed to the overall rise. More>>

ALSO:

Get More From Scoop

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Sci-Tech
Search Scoop  
 
 
Powered by Vodafone
NZ independent news