Heat Stress Management Strategies – Science v Pseudoscience
Northern Australia’s combination of chronic heat and seasonal humidity produce challenging conditions for thermoregulation, with potential for elevated core body temperature (Brearley et al., 2015, Brearley et al., 2016) and associated sequelae (Brearley et al., submitted) that may compromise the health, safety and performance of exposed workers. Despite these apparent risks, several contemporary heat stress management practices lack support by empirical evidence. To assist Australian industry transition their management of heat stress to reflect the evidence, a heat stress research program was developed across Northern Australia with application to regions exposed to extreme heat.
Such research employed a novel approach, focusing on the worker rather than the environment, and undertaken in the field rather than the laboratory. Evidence regarding hydration (Brearley, 2017), heat acclimatisation (Brearley et al., 2016; Brearley, 2016a) cooling strategies (Brearley, 2016b), monitoring of workers (Brearley et al., 2015), impacts of heat exposure (Brearley et al., submitted) and heat stroke management (Brearley, accepted) are among the topics to be discussed in this presentation. The research outcomes challenge prevailing worker health and safety management, including the notion that beverage temperature impacts rehydration, that practical and effective cooling of workers is not feasible, and that recommended heat stroke procedures are appropriate.