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 ORIGINAL ARTICLE
Year : 2015  |  Volume : 19  |  Issue : 3  |  Page : 151-158

Perceived heat stress and health effects on construction workers


1 Environment and Occupational health Department, n Institute of Public Health Gandhinagar, Ahmedabad, Gujarat, India
2 Department of Pediatrics and Preventive Medicine, Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, New York, USA
3 Environment and Occupational health Department, Indian Institute of Public Health Gandhinagar, Ahmedabad, Gujarat, India

Correspondence Address:
Priya Dutta
Indian Institute of Public Health Gandhinagar, Inside Sardar Patel Institute Campus, Thaltej, Ahmedabad - 380 054, Gujarat
India
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None


DOI: 10.4103/0019-5278.174002

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Introduction: Increasing heat waves-particularly in urban areas where construction is most prevalent, highlight a need for heat exposure assessment of construction workers. This study aims to characterize the effects of heat on construction workers from a site in Gandhinagar. Materials and Methods: This study involved a mixed methods approach consisting of a cross sectional survey with anthropometric measurements (n = 219) and four focus groups with construction workers, as well as environmental measurements of heat stress exposure at a construction site. Survey data was collected in two seasons i.e., summer and winter months, and heat illness and symptoms were compared between the two time periods. Thematic coding of focus group data was used to identify vulnerability factors and coping mechanisms of the workers. Heat stress, recorded using a wet bulb globe temperature monitor, was compared to international safety standards. Results: The survey findings suggest that heat-related symptoms increased in summer; 59% of all reports in summer were positive for symptoms (from Mild to Severe) as compared to 41% in winter. Focus groups revealed four dominant themes: (1) Non-occupational stressors compound work stressors; (2) workers were particularly attuned to the impact of heat on their health; (3) workers were aware of heat-related preventive measures; and (4) few resources were currently available to protect workers from heat stress. Working conditions often exceed international heat stress safety thresholds. Female workers and new employees might be at increased risk of illness or injury. Conclusion: This study suggests significant health impacts on construction workers from heat stress exposure in the workplace, showed that heat stress levels were higher than those prescribed by international standards and highlights the need for revision of work practices, increased protective measures, and possible development of indigenous work safety standards for heat exposure.






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