Impact of heat-related illnesses on behavior and cognitive recognition — Occupational health and safety

Impact of heat-related illnesses on behavior and cognitive recognition

Exposure to hot indoor or outdoor work environments, even for short periods, can lead to cognitive and behavioral impairment.

Heat stress and heat-related illnesses are one of the most common occupational health problems for indoor and outdoor workers. About 13.3 million American workers were working in extreme heat every day in July 2017. Globally, the World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that 125 to 175 million people are exposed to heat waves excessive due to climate change. Workers who are affected by hyperthermia include foundry and foundry workers; farmers and ranchers; agricultural workers; loggers; workers in construction, oil and gas, warehousing; manufacturing and textile workers; hazmat emergency responders and firefighters.

Studies published in the literature support the concept that workers can experience cognitive and behavioral effects when exposed to hot and humid work environments. The significance depends on many confounding factors. Human performance is influenced by a range of different environmental factors related to air temperature, relative humidity, wind speed or air movement, as well as time and temperature. exposure frequency. Other physiological factors include, but are not limited to, heat acclimatization, hydration, rest and work periods, use of protective equipment, current health status, and physical condition.

Core body temperature should be maintained around 37°C to maintain comfort. When the temperature and humidity of the outdoor or indoor air begin to influence core body temperature, workers begin to sweat and become dehydrated. Failure to remove or reduce heat load through engineering or administrative controls impacts the body in compensation for the external climate. Uncontrolled work environments or strenuous work without proper acclimatization can cause workers to experience heat-induced physiological stresses that can lead to health issues such as heat stroke, rhabdomyolysis (rhabdo), heat exhaustion, heat cramps, heat, heat collapse, rashes and heat fatigue. Additionally, there are two types of human responses related to hyperthermia including: behavioral and cognitive responses.1 Simple work tasks are less likely to be affected by heat stress than complex tasks such as tracking, monitoring and multi-tasking.2

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