Health and Safety, Learn More
Both cold and warm working environment can reduce working ability by affecting body thermal balance. Even a slight superficial cooling of the muscles (without affecting deep body temperature) reduces significantly force production and hampers coordination thus increasing the risk for accidents. In the long run these kind of changes may lead to a state of cumulative fatigue which is considered as a precursor for musculoskeletal problems, symptoms and disorders. In a more severe exposure cold can induce frostnips or frostbites especially in the extremities e.g. in fingers and toes. Cooling of fingers below 15 °C decreases finger dexterity. Severe whole body cooling can result in hypothermia which significantly reduces both physical and mental work ability.
In a warm working environment the rise in body core temperature can hasten the occurrence of fatigue, reduce muscle force production thus affecting work ability. If the core temperature rises to a level of hyperthermia it can induce e.g. dizziness, nausea and vomiting and fast cooling of the body is needed.
Personal protective equipment (PPE)
Results from the measurements
The results from the MineHealth study indicate that superficial cooling may be possible in some instances, like working with bare hands in cold. Also, questionnaire study showed that 25 % of the respondents feel their extremities cold and 11 % their whole body cold when outside working temperature is between -20 - -10°C. The results also indicate that on average cardiac, metabolic and muscular strain in modern days mining work can be considered as light and/or moderately heavy work, with occasionally occurring peak strain episodes.
- Mänttäri et al. (2014) A field study of thermal responses of miners in Arctic open-pit mines (4BOHW abstract)
- Mänttäri et al. (2014) Summary of the results of questionnaire obtained from the MineHealth project in Kevitsa mine spring 2013
- Oksa et al. (2014) Metabolic, cardiac and muscular strain of Finnish and Swedish open pit-miners (abstract)
- Parsons (2014) Human thermal environments. The effects of hot, moderate, and cold environments on human health, comfort, and performance. Third Edition. CRC Press.
- Ilmarinen et al. (2011) Hypotermia – Kylmän haitat työssä ja vapaa-aikana (Työterveyslaitos, in Finnish)
- Duodecim 4/2005 (in Finnish)
Guidebooks and www-pages
- Hassi et al. (2002) Opas kylmätyöhön. Työterveyslaitoksen julkaisuja. (in Finnish)
- Cold weather workers safety guide. Canadian Centre of Occupational Health and Safety. (EN)