Heat stress on board : risk and prevention


  • Rosa de la Campa
  • María Àngeles Bouza
  • Julio Louro


The heat stress is the load of heat that a worker receives and accumulates in his body and that result of the interaction between the environmental conditions of the place where he works, the physical activity he does and the clothes he wears. The direct action of heat on the body causes a defence against this elevation of temperature inside our organism with the aim of keeping the internal temperature within limit parameters. As Directive 89/654/EEC concerning the minimum safety and health requirements for the workplace indicates the thermal and hygrometrical conditions that can cause thermal stress on the workers health have to be studied.On board ships, specifically in the engine room, seafarers are subjected to very high temperatures during long time periods and to considerable variation in temperature.The objective of this paper is to analyse the impact of thermal stress on engine room workers on board ships, to study the consequences of such thermal stress to the organism and to review the current labour legislation with regard to risks due to thermal stress by heat. At the same time a relationship between heat stress and fatigue on board is stablished. It is concluded that the current thermal regulation measures as well as the applicable legislation are clearly insufficient. Moreover, heat stroke and dehydration are the most serious risks of exposure to heat in the engine room