Journal Temperature Volume 4, 2017 - Issue 3
Introducing HEAT-SHIELD ambitions for inter-sectoral collaboration to tackle temperature issues related to workplace heat “Welcome to the world of Temperature!” With these words the present journal was launched as a publication with special focus on temperature issues and their essential importance for life.1 Romanovsky AA. New research journals are needed and can compete with titans. Temperature. 2014;1(1):1-5. doi:10.4161/temp.27666. [Taylor & Francis Online], [Google Scholar] The shared focus and international collaboration is more relevant than ever as our future world will involve more heat and increased prevalence of heat-induced issues. Even with the least pessimistic climate scenarios predicting only small increases in the average global temperature, we will face higher frequencies of heat waves and marked increase in the total number of hot days in the vulnerable regions of the world.2 IPCC. Managing the risks of extreme events and disasters to advance climate change adaptation. A special report of working groups I and II of the intergovernmental panel on climate change, CB Field, V Barros, TF Stocker, D Qin, DJ Dokken, KL Ebi, MD Mastrandrea, KJ Mach, G-K Plattner, SK Allen, M Tignor, PM Midgley (Eds.). Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press; 2012. [Google Scholar] Scientists in thermal physiology, occupational epidemiology, and climate research focusing on workplace heat impacts have repeatedly observed the immense impact that current heat situations have on humans. Given the projected worrying climate scenarios, it is urgent to tackle the temperature issues and to collaborate among different disciplines to improve heat resilience and mitigate the detrimental effects of rising environmental temperatures. For the workers exposed to environmental heat or heat stress due to industrial heat production, the problems are also very pertinent (see, e.g., refs. 3 Schneider S. Heat acclimation: gold mines and genes. Temperature. 2016;3(4):527-538; PMID:28090556. doi:10.1080/23328940.2016.1240749. [Taylor & Francis Online], [Google Scholar] and 4 Ioannou L, Tsoutsoubi L, Samoutis G, Bogataj LK, Kenny GP, Nybo L, Kjellstrom T, Flouris AD. Time-motion analyses as a novel approach for evaluating the impact of environmental heat exposure on labor loss in agriculture workers. Temperature. 2017;4(3):330-340. doi:10.1080/23328940.2017.1338210. [Taylor & Francis Online], [Google Scholar] ), whereas the proximity of the problem may vanish in the air-conditioned political office far away from the occupational settings. For company managements, the incentive to address the heat issue may be particularly high when productivity becomes affected or when workers need to be sent home because they got sick from heat-related issues. For both the public and private policy/decision maker, the associated financial issues often generate concerns about how to address the heat and health problems—what will it cost if I have to install additional cooling, is it even possible and won't it be detrimental to productivity if we strive to improve the workers’ health and well-being? However, not only direct productivity losses will impact economy of an enterprise and we emphasize that the epidemiological aspects also should be a part of the decision-making evidence. The balance between interests calls for inter-sectoral collaboration and the conversion of good intensions into action. Combined with a strong belief that improved health and productivity, in fact, can and should go hand-in-hand, these considerations are some of the cornerstones in HEAT-SHIELD, an inter-sectoral research project funded by the European Union (http://cordis.europa.eu/project/rcn/200678_en.html). The project is dedicated to improve heat resilience in European workers and provide know-how to the European community ranging from the individual citizen to public and private policy makers to implement methods and procedures that may secure health and productivity during present and future climatic scenarios. However, HEAT-SHIELD is also dedicated to collaborate with researchers all over the world and exchange knowledge on how sustainable and feasible solutions can be implemented and how scientific knowledge can be translated into actions that may be adopted by workers and policy makers. The project's mission would be easily achieved if we, literally, could provide a shield toward all heat sources, but air-conditioning or other artificial approaches are far from feasible in many occupational settings and they are often very energy consuming implying a heavy burden on the economic bottom line, and, unless produced by sustainable sources, also detrimental to the global green bottom line. The ambitions and aims of the HEAT-SHIELD project are illustrated in our logo (see Fig. 1), where the red temperature sign signifies the temperature issues associated with working under high heat stress and the dark green font indicates our ambitions of producing sustainable solutions to counter-act the detrimental influence of excessive workplace heat.