Employee Wellness in a Changing Climate: Environmental Heat Stress Driving Need for Targeted Health Promotion and Risk Reduction

Authors

  • George A. Gellert Evidence-Based Solutions, San Antonio, Texas
  • Scott Montgomery Wellteq, Singapore
  • Tess E. Gellert Wellteq, Vancouver
  • Jeames Gillett Wellteq, Sydney
  • Andrew Kerekes Wellteq, Melbourne
  • Jeremy Hole

DOI:

https://doi.org/10.18311/jeoh/2022/29945

Keywords:

Climate Change, Employee Health, Employee Wellness, Heat Stress, Mental Stress

Abstract

Objectives: Evaluate the effects of increased ambient temperatures among outdoor workers on physiological heat stress through continuous monitoring of heart rate variability. Methods: A digital smartphone health promotion application was deployed to engage and educate construction workers about stress and other risk reduction; to determine body mass index; and to measure the impact of elevated temperatures on physiological stress measured by tracking continuous non-exertional heart rate variability using a wearable device over 24 hours. Results: Post-program self-rating of health status improved among 56% of participants. A linear relationship was observed between external ambient temperature and physiological stress. Healthy weight people demonstrated less dynamic HRV change and stress with rising temperature compared to those obese/overweight. Physiological stress levels peaked during the hottest hours of the day, with high BMI workers having the greatest increases in stress. Conclusions: Physiological heat stress is impacting outdoor workers in the construction industry, with greater severity observed as BMI increases. Framing climate change as an occupational health issue will help employers understand and mitigate the negative impact of a changing climate on outdoor workers. Use of personal mobile digital technology enables employers to effectively monitor and target physiological heat stress and mental stress among at-risk employees.

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References

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Published

2022-07-12

How to Cite

Gellert, G. A., Montgomery, S., Gellert, T. E., Gillett, J., Kerekes, A., & Hole, J. (2022). Employee Wellness in a Changing Climate: Environmental Heat Stress Driving Need for Targeted Health Promotion and Risk Reduction. Journal of Ecophysiology and Occupational Health, 22(2), 60–66. https://doi.org/10.18311/jeoh/2022/29945

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