Overview/summary for transportation
The transportation sector employs 10 million people accounting for ~ 4.5% of total employment in EU and ~4.6% of total GDP. The sector is central to Europe’s economic growth, but also of importance for everyday mobility and safe transportation of citizens. Occupational tasks may be divided into two main areas:
1) Driving/steering/navigation of vehicles, where the workers metabolic rate and internal heat production is usually low, but attention, fine motor tasks and driving safety are key concerns. 2) All associated services and logistic (i.e. more manual tasks such as loading/unloading the vehicle or manual handling of goods in warehouses etc. including work in both conditioned/unconditioned spaces) or office work. The present work focus on 1) and challenges related to occupations in vehicle cabins, while tasks outside vehicles resemble other industrial work (see construction and manufacturing industries for advises).
The major issues contributing to discomfort and heat stress in vehicle cabins is excessive external heating of the cabin air and cockpit surfaces (i.e. greenhouse effect), and the heterogeneity of exposure related to solar load, shading elements and conditioning systems. In addition, a high vigilance level is required during work, and ongoing Heat-Shield work have identified that cognitive performance is especially vulnerable in the heat if workers/drivers become dehydrated or are exposed to alternating tasks. I.e. multitasking lowers visuo-motor performance. The loss of productivity in this case may relate to increased number of transportation accidents and elongated breaks between shifts.
To avoid excessive heating of vehicle and prevent negative effects on cognitive performance and productivity, the following mitigation measures may be suggest:
Reduce solar radiation when loads are high – e.g. via glazing and solar shading
Assist air conditioning with ventilation (to lower AC draining of energy and benefit cooling efficiency)
Consider seat conditioning and clothing
Thermal interaction between the seat and the human body takes place on the large area of contact and hence has relatively large potential to cool the body in hot environment.
Maintain focus on the primary motor/cognitive assignment as heat stress impairs the ability to multitask
Prevent dehydration – even mild hypohydration influence visuo-motor performance. Supply with cold water and remind workers to rehydrate between work-shifts