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

 

Scoop Business: RBNZ Keeps OCR At 3.5%, Signals Slower Pace Of Future Hikes

Reserve Bank governor Graeme Wheeler kept the official cash rate at 3.5 percent and signalled he won’t be as aggressive with future rate hikes as previously thought as inflation remains tamer than expected. The kiwi dollar fell to a seven-month low. More>>

ALSO:

Weather: Dry Spells Take Hold In South Island

Many areas in the South Island are tracking towards record dry spells as relatively warm, dry weather that began in mid-August continues... for some South Island places, the current period of fine weather is quite rare. More>>

ALSO:

Scoop Business: Productivity Commission To Look At Housing Land Supply

The Productivity Commission is to expand on its housing affordability report with an investigation into improving land supply and development capacity, particularly in areas with strong population growth. More>>

ALSO:

Forestry: Man Charged After 2013 Death

Levin Police have arrested and charged a man with manslaughter in relation to the death of Lincoln Kidd who was killed during a tree felling operation on 19 December 2013. More>>

ALSO:

Smells Like Justice: Dairy Company Fined Over Odour

Dairy company fined over odour Dairy supply company Open Country Dairy Limited has been convicted and fined more than $35,000 for discharging objectionable odour from its Waharoa factory at the time of last year’s ”spring flush” when milk supply was high. More>>

Scoop Business: Dairy Product Prices Decline To Lowest Since July 2012

Dairy product prices dropped to the lowest level since July 2012 in the latest GlobalDairyTrade auction, led by a slump in rennet casein and butter milk powder. More>>

ALSO:

SOE Results: TVNZ Lifts Annual Profit 25% On Flat Ad Revenue, Quits Igloo

Television New Zealand, the state-owned broadcaster, lifted annual profit 25 percent, ahead of forecast and despite a dip in advertising revenue, while quitting its stake in the pay-TV Igloo joint venture with Sky Network Television. More>>

ALSO:

Get More From Scoop

 
 
Computer Power Plus

Standards New Zealand

Standards New Zealand

Mosh Social Media
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Sci-Tech
Search Scoop  
 
 
Powered by Vodafone
NZ independent news