European Commission logo
English English
CORDIS - EU research results

Integrated inter-sector framework to increase the thermal resilience of European workers in the context of global warming

Periodic Reporting for period 4 - HEAT-SHIELD (Integrated inter-sector framework to increase the thermal resilience of European workers in the context of global warming)

Reporting period: 2020-07-01 to 2021-12-31

HEAT-SHIELD (H2020 - GA 668786; see for project description and detailed information) was completed in the period 2016-2021 with the overall aim dedicated to improve heat resilience in European workers.

An issue of importance for the European society.

Escalating environmental temperatures is a global societal challenge with worldwide effects, including EU, where human health problems, productivity losses in occupational settings and heat-stress symptoms are experienced by millions of European citizens during the summertime. Our inter-sectoral approach, development of inter-disciplinary analyses and methodologies for improved evaluation and translation of knowledge to industry specific information and guidance relevant for workers have inspired and impacted the international scientific community.''

In alignment with the overall objective we envision:

All Europeans have access to expert support for effective addressing current and future climatic heat scenarios and public as well as private policy makers will take efficient actions to minimize the detrimental effects of elevated environmental temperatures. Hence, it was the HEAT-SHIELD mission to provide information (science-based policy-relevant evidence) for both decision-makers (employers, mangers, health-advisors, local policy-makers etc.) and the individual citizens (workers).

To the achieve the above aims, we have in addition to high impact scientific papers providing policy relevant information, collaborated with national and international stakeholders on utilizing the information to improve public heat-health warning systems relevant for national prevention plans, guidance for workers, employers, and occupational health-and-safety professionals. We have spearheaded that reports from the World Health Organization and guidance documents from the International Labour Organization, and the World Meteorological Organization were updated with new evidence and information adopted by national Labour Ministries in their guidance documents. HEAT-SHIELD information have therefore impacted and supported implementation of effective policies in several members states in EU.
HEAT-SHIELD has contributed to the scientific field, with more than 180 published documents of which 70 peer-reviewed papers published (see complete list at and successfully translated these into high-impact (e.g. Lancet, BMJ, Nature Communications) papers on the larger perspectives of climate change impacts on European and global societies. HEAT-SHIELD has also contributed to international meetings, and leading researchers have presented the project in international and national media (TV and Newspapers) during heat-wave periods. HEAT-SHIELD has initiated and spearheaded a joint WHO/WMO report on occupational health in a warming world (published spring 2022) indicating that the advancement of knowledge produced over the 6-year project period is integrated in this important international document. In combination with our contribution to the IPCC working group 2 report (see fig 5.18 on global work productivity; and the WHO-European office document “Heat and health in the WHO European Region: updated evidence for effective prevention” ( where occupational heat stress received increased attention for the first time, it signifies the important societal impact that the HEAT-SHIELD has generated.

Information targeting the individual worker has led to the production of a series of infographics (see examples and for complete list) and an "occupational HAP [Heat-Action-Plan]. This knowledge has also been included in guidance material from large international organizations dedicated to occupational and public health.

By leading reports published by the WHO, WHO-Europe and ILO, we have disseminated our policy recommendations and further informed national Ministries of Labour/Health/Environment/ Social Cohesion/Migration, etc. Societal/public outreach via public (international, national and social) media have been prioritized and massive throughout the project. Examples are: Financial Times, Thomson Reuters, The Guardian, El Mundo and EU Horizon magazine. Even after the project’s lifetime the impact has spread and e.g. supported the Pulitzer Center in designing and launching the initiative “Your Work/Environment”. Hence, both in term of scientific and societal outreach, the Heat-Shield project have broadly disseminated and impacted the defined "target audience" [decision-makers, end-users and organizations]
As mentioned above our research has resulted in >70 publications in high-impact journals (e.g. Lancet, BMJ, Nature Comm). This work has provided the most detailed methodologies to estimate health and economic implications of global warming and to assess different mitigation and adaptation options to fight climate change. The uptake of HEAT-SHIELD publications has already been high, cited >2000 times, included in IPCC- ILO- and WHO-reports. To facilitate translation into societal impact, we assessed the target industries, (employers/employee representatives) and the social context by working with the European Trade Union Confederation, industry specific unions and non-profits such as the Fundación 1º de Mayo and policy makers such as the Greek Ministry of Labour, as well as the Economics of Climate Change Unit of the European Commission JRC. These collaborations led to a very high uptake of our work by these organizations. One example is the guide “Adaptation to Climate Change and the world of work” published by the European Trade Union Confederation with support from HEAT-SHIELD to play an active role in the design and implementation of the national strategies for adaptation and to bring adaptation on the agenda of industrial relations. Currently, Occupational heat-stress (OHS) is not addressed in EU or national directives for work, but the Greek Minister of Labour requested HEAT-SHIELD to contribute to an explanatory report addressing OHS during the summer months. The report was submitted in 2021 and the Minister is now negotiating with relevant stakeholders the adoption of a Ministerial Decision on OHS in Greece. When adopted, this will be a major milestone affecting the lives of millions of workers and may lead the way for other European countries to follow. We have already paved the way for the adoption of such legislation, helping the Greek Meteorology Service to calibrate their numerical weather prediction models for providing forecasts of the Wet-Bulb Globe Temperature, the HEAT-SHIELD indicator for OHS. This indicator has been highlighted in the homepage of the Meteo service since 2020, informing thousands of organizations and millions of workers. Based both on our completed intervention studies and the regional socio-economic analyses, we estimate that compliance with the HEAT-SHIELD recommendations may more than halve the impacts (productivity losses and health-issues) associated with heat-stress - hence markedly improve heat-resilience and reduce the the effects of escalating environmental temperatures associated with climate change)
Heat-Shield logo
example of info for workers
example of infographic for industries