Thermal Environments in the Construction Industry: A Critical Review of Heat Stress Assessment and Control Strategies

  • Ruwini EdirisingheEmail author
  • Mary Myla Andamon
Part of the Green Energy and Technology book series (GREEN)


In the light of climate change predictions, the increasing number of hot days will cause a significant impact on public health, mortality rates, energy demand and economy of Australia. Heat is also an occupation hazard, which is a growing concern in many industries. Heat stress hazards can be categorized as clinical, human performance diminishing and accident causing. The risk can be exaggerated in certain industries, including the construction industry, due to specific environmental conditions, work characteristics and occupational settings. This chapter discusses the main problems and risks associated with heat stress, with a particular emphasis on the construction industry. Various heat stress indices and advances in the assessment of heat stress in recent years are discussed. Finally, this chapter discusses the strategies and controls that can be implemented to mitigate the impact of heat stress in the construction industry. Various acclimatization protocols, hydration, self-pacing and exposure time limits or temperature risk control regimes are discussed by analysing standards, guidelines and policies and practices. This chapter contributes to resolving a timely and strategic occupational hazard through a holistic view of the thermal environment in construction industry settings.


  1. 1.
    ABS ABOS (2015) Estimates of industry multifactor productivity, 2014–15 [Online]. Available: [Accessed]
  2. 2.
    ACGIH (2009) Heat stress and strain: TLV(R) physical agents, 7th edn. documentation. ACGIH Signature Publications, CincinnatiGoogle Scholar
  3. 3.
    ACGIH (2012) TLVs and BEIs: threshold limit values for chemical substances and physical agents and biological exposure indices. American Conference of Governmental Industrial Hygienists, CincinnatiGoogle Scholar
  4. 4.
    ACGIH (2014) TLVs and BEIs: threshold limit values for chemical substances and physical agents and biological exposure indices. American Conference of Governmental Industrial Hygienists, CincinnatiGoogle Scholar
  5. 5.
    AIOH AIOOH (2003) A guide to managing heat stress. Australian Institute of Occupational HygienistsGoogle Scholar
  6. 6.
    ASHRAE (2017a) ASHRAE Handbook—fundamentals. American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers, Inc. (ASHRAE), AtlantaGoogle Scholar
  7. 7.
    ASHRAE (2017b) Thermal comfort (Chapter 9). In: ASHRAE handbook—fundamentals, SI edn. American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers, Inc. (ASHRAE), AtlantaGoogle Scholar
  8. 8.
    Baker J, Grice J, Roby L, Matthews C (2000) Cardiorespiratory and thermoregulatory response of working in firefighter protective clothing in a temperate environment. Ergonomics 43:1350–1358CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. 9.
    Bates G (2002) Empirical validation of a new heat stress index. J Occup Health Saf Aust N Z 18:145–154Google Scholar
  10. 10.
    Bates GP, Schneider J (2008) Hydration status and physiological workload of UAE construction workers: a prospective longitudinal observational study. J Occup Med Toxicol 3:21CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. 11.
    Bell S (2012) Commissioner for mine safety and health: Queensland mines inspectorate annual performance report 2011–12. Queensland Mines Inspectorate, Department of Natural Resources and Mines, State of Queensland, Queensland, AustraliaGoogle Scholar
  12. 12.
    Brake DJ, Bates GP (2002a) Deep body core temperatures in industrial workers under thermal stress. J Occup Environ Med 44:125–135CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. 13.
    Brake DJ, Bates GP (2002b) Limiting metabolic rate (thermal work limit) as an index of thermal stress. Appl Occup Environ Hyg 17:176–186CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. 14.
    CFMEU (2016) 35 °C, that’s enough—CFMEU hot weather policy [Online]. Available: [Accessed]
  15. 15.
    CFMEU Queensland and Northern Territory (2015) Heat stress policy. Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union (Queensland and North Territory Branch)Google Scholar
  16. 16.
    CSAO (2000) Heat stress: guidelines for recognition, assessment, and control in construction. Construction Safety Association of Ontario, EtobicokeGoogle Scholar
  17. 17.
    Chan AP, Yam MC, Chung JW, Yi W (2012) Developing a heat stress model for construction workers. J Facil Manage 10:59–74CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. 18.
    Chan AP, Yi W, Chan DW, Wong DP (2013) Using the thermal work limit as an environmental determinant of heat stress for construction workers. J Manage Eng 29:414–423CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. 19.
    Chan AP, Yang Y (2016) Practical on-site measurement of heat strain with the use of a perceptual strain index. Int Arch Occup Environ Health 89(2):299–306MathSciNetCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. 20.
    Chan APC, Wong FKW, Yam MCH, Chan DMW, Mok ECM, Shea GYK, Dingsdag DA (2011) A research framework for assessing the effects of heat stress on construction workers. In: 6th International Structural Engineering and Construction Conference, ISEC06—Modern Methods and Advances in Structural Engineering and Construction. ZurichGoogle Scholar
  21. 21.
    Chi S, Han S (2013) Analyses of systems theory for construction accident prevention with specific reference to OSHA accident reports. Int J Project Manage 31:1027–1041CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. 22.
    DOD (2003) Technical bulletin: heat stress control and heat casualty management. TB MED 507/AFPAM 48-152 (I). DOD, WashingtonGoogle Scholar
  23. 23.
    Dehghan H, Habibi E, Khodarahmi B, Ha HY, Hasanzadeh A (2013) The relationship between observational–perceptual heat strain evaluation method and environmental/physiological indices in warm workplace. Pak J Med Sci 2013(29):358–362Google Scholar
  24. 24.
    Dehghan H, Mortazavi SB, Jafari MJ, Maracy MR (2012) Evaluation of wet bulb globe temperature index for estimation of heat strain in hot/humid conditions in the Persian Gulf. J Res Med Sci. Off J Isfahan Univ Med Sci 17:1108Google Scholar
  25. 25.
    Department of Natural Resources and Mines (2012) Risk management of heat exposure in mining, mines safety bulletin [Online]. Available: [Accessed]
  26. 26.
    Dukes-Dobos FN, Henschel A (1973) Development of permissible heat exposure limits for occupational work. ASHRAE, J Am Soc Heating Refrigerating Air-Conditioning Eng 57–62Google Scholar
  27. 27.
    EHS Center (2012) Technical guideline: safety in the heat (Abu Dhabi EHSMS Regulatory Framework). Abu Dhabi Environment. Health and Safety Center, UAEGoogle Scholar
  28. 28.
    Edirisinghe R, Lingard H (2016) Exploring the potential for the use of video to communicate safety information to construction workers: case studies of organizational use. Construction Manage Econ 34:366–376CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. 29.
    Edirisinghe R, Stranieri A, Blismas N (2016) Information visualisation for the wicked problem of safe construction design. Archit Eng Des Manage 12:296–310Google Scholar
  30. 30.
    Edirisinghe R, Jadhav A (2017) Is the smart safety vest a brutal innovation? Evaluation of microclimate performance using a thermal manikin. In: Chan PW, Neilson CJ (eds) 33rd Annual ARCOM Conference, 4–6 September 2017, Cambridge, UK. Association of Researchers in Construction Management, pp 734–744Google Scholar
  31. 31.
    Edwards PJ, Bowen PA (1998) Risk and risk management in construction: a reviewand future directions for research. Eng Constr Archit Manage 5:339–349CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. 32.
    Emmerson K, Hibberd M, Keywood M (2017) Australia State of the Environment 2016: Atmosphere, independent report to the Australian Government Minister for the Environment and Energy, Australian Government Department of the Environment and Energy, Canberra. Australian Government Department of Environment and Energy, CanberraGoogle Scholar
  33. 33.
    Epstein Y, Moran DS (2006) Thermal comfort and the heat stress indices. Ind Health 44:388–398CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. 34.
    Fanger PO (1970) Thermal comfort. Analysis and applications in environmental engineeringGoogle Scholar
  35. 35.
    Farshad A, Montazer S, Monazzam MR, Eyvazlou M, Mirkazemi R (2014) Heat stress level among construction workers. Iran J Public Health 43:492Google Scholar
  36. 36.
    Fischer M, Waugh L, Axworthy A (1998) IT support of single project, multi-project and industry-wide integration. Comput Ind 35:31–45CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. 37.
    Gagge AP (1981) Rational temperature indices of thermal comfort. In: Cena KM, Clark JA (eds) Studies in environmental science: bioengineering, thermal physiology and comfort. Elsevier Scientific Publishing Company, AmsterdamGoogle Scholar
  38. 38.
    Garrett JW, Teizer J (2009) Human factors analysis classification system relating to human error awareness taxonomy in construction safety. J Constr Eng Manage 135:754–763CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. 39.
    Goldman RF (1988) Standards for human exposure to heat. In: Mekjavic IB, Banister EW, Morrison JB (eds) Environmental ergonomics: sustaining human performance in harsh environments. Taylor & Francis, Ltd., LondonGoogle Scholar
  40. 40.
    HSE HASE (2017) Measuring heat stress [Online]. Available: [Accessed]
  41. 41.
    Holmer I (2010) Climate change and occupational heat stress: methods for assessment. Glob Health Action 2010:5719CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. 42.
    Hoonakker P, Loushine T, Carayon P, Kallman J, Kapp A, Smith MJ (2005) The effect of safety initiatives on safety performance: a longitudinal study. Appl Ergon 36:461–469CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. 43.
    ISO 7243 (1989) Hot environments––estimation of the heat stress on working man, based on the WBGT-Index (Wet Bulb Globe Temperature). International Standard Organisation, GenevaGoogle Scholar
  44. 44.
    ISO 7933 (1989) Hot environments—analytical determination and interpretation of heat stress using calculation of the required sweat rate. International Standard, Organisation, GenevaGoogle Scholar
  45. 45.
    ISO 7933 (2004) Ergonomics of the thermal environment analytical determination and interpretation of heat stress using calculation of the predicted heat strain. International Standard, Organisation, GenevaGoogle Scholar
  46. 46.
    ISO 9886 (2004) Evaluation of thermal strain by physiological measurements. International Organisation for Standardisation, GenevaGoogle Scholar
  47. 47.
    Jay O, Brotherhood JR (2016) Occupational heat stress in Australian workplaces. Temperature 3:394–411CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. 48.
    Kenefick RW, Hazzard MP, Armstrong LE (2003) Minor heat illnesses. In: Exertional heat illnesses. Human Kinetics Publishers Inc., USAGoogle Scholar
  49. 49.
    Kilbourne EM (1997) Public health consequences of disasters. In: Noji E (ed). Oxford University Press, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  50. 50.
    Kovats RS, Hajat S (2008) Heat stress and public health: a critical review. Annu Rev Public Health 29:41–55CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. 51.
    Lind AR (1963) A physiological criterion for setting thermal environmental limits for everyday work. J Appl Physiol 18:51–60CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. 52.
    Loughnan ME, Tapper NJ, Phan T, Lynch K, Mcinnes JA (2013) A spatial vulnerability analysis of urban populations during extreme heat events in Australian capital cities. National Climate Change Adaptation Research Facility (NCCARF), Gold CoastGoogle Scholar
  53. 53.
    Lugo-Amador NM, Rothenhaus T, Moyer P (2004) Heat-related illness. Emerg Med Clin N Am 22(2):315–327CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. 54.
    Lundgren K, Kuklane K, Venugopal V (2014) Occupational heat stress and associated productivity loss estimation using the PHS model (ISO 7933): a case study from workplaces in Chennai, India. Glob Health Action 7:25283CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. 55.
    Malchaire J, Piette A, Kampmann B, Mehnert P, Gebhardt H, Havenith G, Griefahn B (2001) Development and validation of the predicted heat strain model. Ann Occup Hyg 45:123–135CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  56. 56.
    Malchaire J, Gebhardt H, Piette A (1999) Strategy for evaluation and prevention of risk due to work in thermal environments. Ann Occup Hyg 43:367–376CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  57. 57.
    Miller V, Bates G (2007) Hydration of outdoor workers in north-west Australia. J Occup Health Saf Aust N Z 23:79Google Scholar
  58. 58.
    Miller VS, Bates GP (2007) The thermal work limit is a simple reliable heat index for the protection of workers in thermally stressful environments. Ann Occup Hyg 51:553–561Google Scholar
  59. 59.
    Miller V, Bates G, Schneider JD, Thomsen J (2011) Self-pacing as a protective mechanism against the effects of heat stress. Ann Occup Hyg 55:548–555CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  60. 60.
    Mining Australia (2013) Santos sub-contractor dies of suspected heatstroke [Online]. Available: [Accessed]
  61. 61.
    Montazer S, Farshad AA, Monazzam MR, Eyvazlou M, Yaraghi AAS, Mirkazemi R (2013) Assessment of construction workers’ hydration status using urine specific gravity. Int J Occup Med Environ Health 26:762CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  62. 62.
    Moran DS, Shitzer A, Pandolf KB (1998) A physiological strain index to evaluate heat stress. Am J Physiol 275:R129–R134Google Scholar
  63. 63.
    NIOSH (2016) NIOSH criteria for a recommended standard: occupational exposure to heat and hot environments. In: Jacklitsch B, Williams WJ, Musolin K, Coca A, KIM J-H, Turner N (eds) DHHS (NIOSH) Publication 2016–106. Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, CincinnatiGoogle Scholar
  64. 64.
    NZ Occupational Safety & Health Service (1997) What you need to know about temperature in places of work. NZ Occupational Safety & Health Service and Department of Labour, WellingtonGoogle Scholar
  65. 65.
    Navon R, Sacks R (2007) Assessing research issues in Automated Project Performance control (APPC), Autom Constr 16(2007): 474–484CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  66. 66.
    Navy Environmental Health Center (2007) Prevention and treatment of heat and cold stress injuries. Technical Manual NEHC-TM-OEM 6260.6A. [Online]. Navy Environmental Health Center, Bureau of Medicine and Surgery, Portsmouth. Available: [Accessed]
  67. 67.
    OSHA, OSAHA (2016a) About the heat index [Online]. Available: [Accessed]
  68. 68.
    OSHA, OSAHA (2016b) Protective measures to take at each risk level [Online]. Available: [Accessed]
  69. 69.
    PWC (2013) Productivity Score CardGoogle Scholar
  70. 70.
    Parsons KC (2000) Environmental ergonomics: a review of principles, methods and models. Appl Ergon 31:581–594CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  71. 71.
    Parsons K (1993) Human thermal environments: the effects of hot, moderate, and cold environments on human health, comfort, and performance. Taylor & Francis, LondonGoogle Scholar
  72. 72.
    Parsons KC (2014) Human thermal environments: the effects of hot, moderate and cold environments on human health, comfort and performance. CRC Press Taylor & Francis Ltd., LondonCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  73. 73.
    Queensland WC (2016) A current affair melting man [Online]. Available: [Accessed]
  74. 74.
    Rameezdeen R, Elmualim A (2017) The impact of heat waves on occurrence and severity of construction accidents. Int J Environ Res Public Health 14:70CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  75. 75.
    Rodrigues JM, Oliveira AVM, Gaspar AR, Raimundo AM, Quintela DA (2016) Working conditions in the ceramic industry: assessment of the heat exposure with the Predicted Heat Strain (PHS) index. Occup Saf Hyg IV 249CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  76. 76.
    Rowlinson S, Jia YA (2014) Application of the predicted heat strain model in development of localized, threshold-based heat stress management guidelines for the construction industry. Oxf J—Ann Occup Hyg 58:326–339Google Scholar
  77. 77.
    Rowlinson S, Yunyanjia A, Li B, Chuanjingju C (2014) Management of climatic heat stress risk in construction: a review of practices, methodologies, and future research. Accid Anal Prev 66:187–198CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  78. 78.
    Steffen W, Stock A, Alexander D, Rice M (2017) Angry summer 2016/17: climate change super-charging extreme weather Sydney. Climate Council of Australia, NSWGoogle Scholar
  79. 79.
    Thornley DL (1969) Criteria for thermal comfort. In: Sherratt AFC (ed) Air conditioning system design for buildings. Elsevier Publishing Company Ltd., AmsterdamGoogle Scholar
  80. 80.
    Tikuisis P, McLellan TM, Selkirk G (2002) Perceptual versus physiological heat strain during exercise-heat stress. Med Sci Sports Exerc 34:1454–1461CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  81. 81.
    Wang F, Kuklane K, Gao C, Holmér I (2010) Can the PHS model (ISO7933) predict reasonable thermophysiological responses while wearing protective clothing in hot environments? Physiol Meas 32(2): 239CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  82. 82.
    Williamson TJ, Grant E, Hansen A, Pisaniello D, Andamon MM (2009) An investigation of potential health benefits from increasing energy efficiency stringency requirements—Building Code of Australia volumes one and two. Adelaide Research and Innovation Pty Ltd., The University of Adelaide, AdelaideGoogle Scholar
  83. 83.
    Xiang J, Bi P, Pisaniello D, Hansen A (2014) Health impacts of workplace heat exposure: an epidemiological review. Ind Health 52:91–101CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  84. 84.
    Xiang J, Bi P, Pisaniello D, Hansen A, Sullivan T (2014) Association between high temperature and work-related injuries in Adelaide, South Australia, 2001–2010. Occup Environ Med 71:246–252CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  85. 85.
    Yaglou CP, Minaed D (1957) Control of heat casualties at military training centers. Arch Ind Health 16:302–316Google Scholar
  86. 86.
    Yaglou CP (1949) Indices of comfort. In: Newburgh LH (ed) Physiology of heat regulation and the science of clothing, 1968 edn. Hafner Publishing Co., New YorkGoogle Scholar
  87. 87.
    Yi W, Chan APC (2017) Effects of heat stress on construction labor productivity in Hong Kong: a case study of rebar workers. Int J Environ Res Public Health 14:1055CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  88. 88.
    Yi W, Chan APC, Wang X, Wang J (2016) Development of an early-warning system for site work in hot and humid environments: a case study. Autom Constr 62:101–113CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  89. 89.
    Yi W, Zhao Y, Chan APC, Lam EWM (2017) Optimal cooling intervention for construction workers in a hot and humid environment. Build Environ 118:91–100CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  90. 90.
    Yi W, Chan AP (2015) Which environmental indicator is better able to predict the effects of heat stress on construction workers? J Manage Eng 31Google Scholar
  91. 91.
    Zander KK, Botzen WJ, Oppermann E, Kjellstrom T, Garnett ST (2015) Heat stress causes substantial labour productivity loss in Australia. Nat Clim Change 5:647–651CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Nature Singapore Pte Ltd. 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Sustainable Building Innovation Laboratory, School of Property Construction and Project ManagementRMIT UniversityMelbourneAustralia

Personalised recommendations