The objective of the joint research project is to coordinate and potentiate the work of the main European research teams in the field of thermal factors in order to develop and improve significantly the methods presently available to assess the risks of heat disorders encountered during work in hot conditions.
Items that will be investigated are:
- the strategy to be used in the field to assess exposure, particularly in conditions which vary in time;
- the heat exchange coefficients through convection and evaporation taking into consideration the characteristics of special clothing ensembles;
- the modelling of the physiological behaviour in response to work in the heat and, in particular, of the average skin temperature and the sweating response;
- the criteria for the determination of the maximum allowable exposure duration, taking into account the interindividual differences between workers.
The proposal is structured in two phases:
- Phase 1 will be devoted to the development of knowledge concerning the different items mentioned above. 5 subgroups will be constituted with specific objectives during the first two years of the programme.
- Phase 2 (last year) will be devoted to a comprehensive validation of the assessment method integrating the results gained by the different subgroups.
A structured approach will be used including subgroups and plenary meetings aimed at monitoring closely the progress of the different researches, their integration and complementarity.
The results will be used to improve the ISO and CEN standards developed in cooperation with other experts by the contractors of the present research project. They will represent a significant improvement of the way the risks of heat disorders are assessed in the field and make possible a better protection of the workers.