2013 Volume 51 Issue 1 Pages 3-15
It is accepted that the earth’s climate is changing in an accelerating pace, with already documented implications for human health and the environment. This literature review provides an overview of existing research findings about the effects of heat stress on the working population in relation to climate change. In the light of climate change adaptation, the purpose of the literature review was to explore recent and previous research into the impacts of heat stress on humans in an occupational setting. Heat stress in the workplace has been researched extensively in the past however, in the contemporary context of climate change, information is lacking on its extent and implications. The main factors found to exacerbate heat stress in the current and future workplace are the urban ‘heat island effect’, physical work, individual differences, and the developing country context where technological fixes are often not applicable. There is also a lack of information on the effects on vulnerable groups such as elderly people and pregnant women. As increasing temperatures reduce work productivity, world economic productivity could be condensed, affecting developing countries in the tropical climate zone disproportionately. Future research is needed taking an interdisciplinary approach, including social, economic, environmental and technical aspects.