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Effects of thermal environment and chemical protective clothing on work tolerance, physiological responses, and subjective ratings

Effects of thermal environment and chemical protective clothing on work tolerance, physiological responses, and subjective ratings

Ergonomics 34(4): 445-457

This study examined the physiological and subjective responses of nine healthy men who performed work while wearing two types of protective ensembles in each of three thermal environments. The subjects, all experienced with the use of protective ensembles, each performed low intensity treadmill exercise (23% of VO2 max while not wearing a Self-Contained Breathing Apparatus [SCBA] or protective clothing) under six experimental conditions: two ensembles (SCBA--light work clothing and SCBA; and CHEM--a two-piece chemical protective ensemble with SCBA) during exposure to 'cool' (10.6 degrees C/water vapour pressure [Pw] 0.76 kPa), 'neutral' (22.6 degrees C/Pw 1.52 kPa), and 'hot' (34 degrees C/Pw 2.90 kPa) environments. Each test was intended to continue for 120 min; however the duration and number of work/rest periods within the testing session varied according to the specific responses of each individual. At the completion of each test seven subjective responses were recorded. Physiological data, collected every minute during each test, included heart rate, and skin and rectal temperature. The total worktime was significantly shorter in the hot environment while wearing the CHEM ensemble (53.4 min) compared to all the other conditions (103-105 min). The mean maximum physiological values also indicated significant differences due to thermal environment and/or ensemble. Work performance did not appear to be limited in a cold environment with either ensemble tested. The physiological responses to working in the CHEM/neutral condition were very similar to those occurring in a hot environment wearing the SCBA ensemble. The subjective responses also indicated significant differences due to thermal environment and ensemble, with subjects perceiving the CHEM ensemble as less favourable than the SCBA ensemble. The results suggested that, even at a low work intensity, individuals wearing chemical protective clothing in the heat will require progressively shorter work periods, and more frequent and longer rest periods.

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Accession: 007287175

Download citation: RISBibTeXText

PMID: 1860463

DOI: 10.1080/00140139108967328

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