Environmental heating is a growing challenge for our community and problems are already experienced by millions of Europeans during summertime and aggravated during heat waves or under specific occupational settings. 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. Climate change and especially rising temperatures will cause increasing heat stress at the workplace. It is hence crucial to develop strategies to mitigate the detrimental health and societal effects of these environmental changes.
HEAT-SHIELD is a EU-funded Horizon 2020 (Grant agreement no. 668786) inter-sectoral project dedicated to improve heat resilience of European workers. The main aim is to provide expertise and guidance to the European community ranging from the individual citizen to public and private policy makers to implement methods and procedures that may secure health and productivity in the face of present and future climatic heat scenarios. Within HEAT-SHIELD the effects across five strategic industries (transport, construction, manufacturing, tourism and agriculture) representing approximately 50% of the work force in Europe are explored. Several field studies are conducted to identify how implementation of better knowledge on solutions will help workers and benefit human health, industrial productivity and the local economy.
The project has a clear multi-disciplinary aspect. There are bio-meteorologists and human physiologists from several research institutions (e.g. University of Florence, University of Copenhagen, University of Ljubljana, University of Thessaly, Loughborough University, EMPA), policy makers (Dutch National Health Service and UK National Health Service), private companies (ACCIONA from Spain, Odelo from Slovenia, Center for Technology Research and Innovation from Cyprus and Karditsa Travel Bureau from Greece) and organizations of the civil society sector (Age UK and Tuscany Centre of Injuries & Occupational Diseases in Italy). The role of MeteoSwiss is to provide the meteorological and climatological information that will be further combined and used in the different stages of the project and case studies.