Symptoms of heat illness in surface mine workers

Hunt, A.P., Parker, A.W., & Stewart, I.B. (2013) Symptoms of heat illness in surface mine workers. International Archives of Occupational and Environmental Health, 86, pp. 519-527.

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Objective: To assess the symptoms of heat illness experienced by surface mine workers.

Methods: Ninety-one surface mine workers across three mine sites in northern Australia completed a heat stress questionnaire evaluating their symptoms for heat illness. A cohort of 56 underground mine workers also participated for comparative purposes. Participants were allocated into asymptomatic, minor or moderate heat illness categories depending on the number of symptoms they reported. Participants also reported the frequency of symptom experience, as well as their hydration status (average urine colour).

Results: Heat illness symptoms were experienced by 87 and 79 % of surface and underground mine workers, respectively (p = 0.189), with 81–82 % of the symptoms reported being experienced by miners on more than one occasion. The majority (56 %) of surface workers were classified as experiencing minor heat illness symptoms, with a further 31 % classed as moderate; 13 % were asymptomatic. A similar distribution of heat illness classification was observed among underground miners (p = 0.420). Only 29 % of surface miners were considered well hydrated, with 61 % minimally dehydrated and 10 % significantly dehydrated, proportions that were similar among underground miners (p = 0.186). Heat illness category was significantly related to hydration status (p = 0.039) among surface mine workers, but only a trend was observed when data from surface and underground miners was pooled (p = 0.073). Compared to asymptomatic surface mine workers, the relative risk of experiencing minor and moderate symptoms of heat illness was 1.5 and 1.6, respectively, when minimally dehydrated.

Conclusions: These findings show that surface mine workers routinely experience symptoms of heat illness and highlight that control measures are required to prevent symptoms progressing to medical cases of heat exhaustion or heat stroke.

Impact and interest:

6 citations in Scopus
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4 citations in Web of Science®

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ID Code: 54048
Item Type: Journal Article
Refereed: Yes
Keywords: Heat illness, Heat exhaustion, Mine workers, Hydration status, dehydration
DOI: 10.1007/s00420-012-0786-0
ISSN: 0340-0131
Subjects: Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > MEDICAL AND HEALTH SCIENCES (110000) > HUMAN MOVEMENT AND SPORTS SCIENCE (110600) > Exercise Physiology (110602)
Divisions: Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Faculty of Health
Current > Institutes > Institute of Health and Biomedical Innovation
Current > Schools > School of Exercise & Nutrition Sciences
Deposited On: 10 Oct 2012 04:17
Last Modified: 12 Jun 2016 01:25

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