Occupational heat exposure among municipal workers.
Uejio CK, Morano LH, Jung J, Kintziger K, Jagger M, Chalmers J, Holmes T. Occupational heat exposure among municipal workers. International Archives of Occupational and Environmental Health 2018;91(6):705-715.
Purpose: Outdoor workers face elevated and prolonged heat exposures and have limited access to air-conditioned spaces. This study’s overarching research aim is to increase knowledge of municipal worker heat exposure and adaptation practices. The study’s sub-objectives are: (1) quantifying exposure misclassification from estimating personal heat exposure from the official weather station; (2) surveying worker’s knowledge and practices to adapt to extreme heat; and (3) relating heat exposure and adaptation practices to self-reported thermal comfort. Methods: Participants wore a personal heat exposure sensor over 7 days from June 1st to July 3rd, 2015 in Tallahassee, Florida US. Next, participants confirmed the days that they wore the sensor and reported their daily thermal comfort and heat adaptations. Finally, participants completed an extreme heat knowledge, attitudes, and practices survey. Results: Some participants (37%) experienced hotter and more humid conditions (heat index > 2) than the weather station. The most common heat adaptations were staying hydrated (85%), wearing a hat (46%), and seeking shade (40%). During work hours, higher temperatures increased the odds (odds ratio: 1.21, 95% confidence interval: 1.03–1.41, p = 0.016) of a participant feeling too hot. Shifting work duty indoors made workers to feel more comfortable (odds ratio: 0.28, 95% confidence interval: 0.11–0.70, p = 0.005). Conclusion: In hot and humid climates, everyday, heat exposures continuously challenge the health of outdoor workers.