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Ioannou L.G. , Tsoutsoubi L., Giorkas V., Samoutis G., Spiropoulos G., Flouris A.D.

FAME Laboratory, School of Exercise Science, University of Thessaly, Greece, Medical School, University of
Nicosia, Nicosia, Cyprus, Human and Environmental Physiology Research Unit, School of Human Kinetics,
University of Ottawa, Ottawa, ON, Canada, Centre for Technology Research and Innovation (CETRI), Limassol,

Introduction: Although work under high temperature is associated with significant alterations in hydration status and high risk of heat stroke, vine harvesting workers in Cyprus regularly work in environment that present high wet bulb globe temperature (WBGT). The purpose of this study was to evaluate the heat strain experienced by vineyard workers in Cyprus during their working duties in
different working seasons.

Methods: This study has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under the grant agreement No 668786. Six vine harvesting workers [(four males: 40.8±11.6 years), (two females: 39.5±13.4 years)] in August and five vine harvesting workers [(four males: 40.3±12 years), (one female: 49 years)] in October were monitored during four full work shifts [(two consecutive days in August and another two consecutive days in October), (32 working hours in total)] in Cyprus. Mean skin temperature (Tsk) was calculated from four sites (forearm, chest, thigh, leg), environmental data were recorded using a scientific weather station, behavioral thermoregulation was assessed [thermal comfort (TC) and thermal sensation (TS)] five times (baseline and every two hours) per work shift, while workers’ hydration status [urine specific gravity (USG)] was measured prior and following each work shift.

Results: WBGT during the work shifts ranged from 17.9°C to 34.4°C (27.1±3.7°C). Average and maximum Tsk were 33.8±0.5°C and 36.4±0.7°C, respectively. WBGT was strongly related with TSK, TC, and TS p<0.001. WBGT (29.81±3.0°C vs. 24.7±2.4°C) and TSK (34.3±1.6°C vs. 33.0±1.5°C) of workers were statistically significantly higher in August than in October (p<0.001). Furthermore, hydration status was not significantly different between working seasons. However, in both working seasons all the workers who were assessed were dehydrated (USG>1.02) at the end of each work shift.

Conclusion: We report that vine harvesting workers are affected by higher thermal strain level during a work shift in August than a work shift in October.

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