2014 Volume 52 Issue 2 Pages 91-101
With predicted increasing frequency and intensity of extremely hot weather due to changing climate, workplace heat exposure is presenting an increasing challenge to occupational health and safety. This article aims to review the characteristics of workplace heat exposure in selected relatively high risk occupations, to summarize findings from published studies, and ultimately to provide suggestions for workplace heat exposure reduction, adaptations, and further research directions. All published epidemiological studies in the field of health impacts of workplace heat exposure for the period of January 1997 to April 2012 were reviewed. Finally, 55 original articles were identified. Manual workers who are exposed to extreme heat or work in hot environments may be at risk of heat stress, especially those in low-middle income countries in tropical regions. At risk workers include farmers, construction workers, fire-fighters, miners, soldiers, and manufacturing workers working around process-generated heat. The potential impacts of workplace heat exposure are to some extent underestimated due to the underreporting of heat illnesses. More studies are needed to quantify the extent to which high-risk manual workers are physiologically and psychologically affected by or behaviourally adapt to workplace heat exposure exacerbated by climate change.