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Challenges in Selecting an Appropriate Heat Stress Index to Protect Workers in Hot and Humid Underground Mines
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A detailed evaluation of the underground mine climate requires extensive measurements to be performed coupled to climatic modeling work. This can be labor-intensive and time-consuming, and consequently impractical for daily work comfort assessments. Therefore, a simple indicator like a heat stress index is needed to enable a quick, valid, and acceptable evaluation of underground climatic conditions on a regular basis. This can be explained by the unending quest to develop a "universal index," which has led to the proliferation of many proposed heat stress indices. Methods: The aim of this research study is to discuss the challenges in identifying and selecting an appropriate heat stress index for thermal planning and management purposes in underground mines. A method is proposed coupled to a defined strategy for selecting and recommending heat stress indices to be used in underground metal mines in the United States and worldwide based on a thermal comfort model. Results: The performance of current heat stress indices used in underground mines varies based on the climatic conditions and the level of activities. Therefore, carefully selecting or establishing an appropriate heat stress index is of paramount importance to ensure the safety, health, and increasing productivity of the underground workers. Conclusion: This method presents an important tool to assess and select the most appropriate index for certain climatic conditions to protect the underground workers from heat-related illnesses. Although complex, the method presents results that are easy to interpret and understand than any of the currently available evaluation methods. (C) 2017 Occupational Safety and Health Research Institute, Published by Elsevier Korea LLC.
|Safety and Health at Work
|Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International