Design School

Research

Solving the health & work productivity challenges posed by global warming

Group: Environmental Ergonomics

Project: Heat Shield

4 years - 2016 - 2019

£300,000 to LDS (€6 million total project budget)

Professor George Havenith

Sponsor(s):

Overview

Environmental heating is a growing challenge for our community and problems are already experienced by millions of Europeans during the summertime and aggravated during heat waves or occupational settings.  The HEAT-SHIELD project will create a sustainable inter-sector framework that will promote health as well as work productivity for European citizens in the context of global warming.

In addition to the well-known health risks related to severe heat stress, a number of studies have confirmed significant loss of productivity due to hyperthermia. Even if countries adopt the EU proposal for limiting global CO2 emissions, climate change and its associated threat to public health will continue for many decades. Thus, it is crucial to develop strategies to mitigate the detrimental health and societal effects of these environmental changes.

Stakeholders such as policy makers and the private sector usually lack the technical capabilities or facilities to conduct R&D activities at the level of excellence required for such development. European research institutes have the capacity to conduct the R&D necessary to develop solutions. However, they often lack the capacity to transform these solutions into policies and assess their health, economic and social benefits.

The project will produce a series of state-of-the-art innovative outcomes including:

  • appropriate technical and biophysical research based solutions to be implemented when the ambient temperature poses a health threat or impairs productivity
  • a weather-based warning system with online open access service that anticipates the events that may pose a threat to workers’ health
  • scenario-specific policies and solutions aimed at health promotion and preventing loss of productivity
  • implementation of the formulated policies and evaluation of their health, economic and social benefits.

Consequently, the HEAT-SHIELD project provides a multi-sector approach to address this serious environmental challenge.