- It should be personalized; that is, based on the physical demands of the job as well as on workers’ physical, clothing, and behavioral characteristics and on the work environment;
- it should include short-term suggestions useful to help heat adaptation for workers;
- it should contain long-term heat risk information for planning/organizing work, which is useful for employers, organizations, and operators in charge of safeguarding health and productivity in various occupational areas.
2. Materials and Methods
2.1. The Weather Forecast Model
- The European Climate Assessment and Dataset project (ECA & D)  was the primary source for the observational dataset. There is, however, a limited number of stations with non-standard parameters such as humidity and wind (see green points in Figure 1). Thus, the following datasets were used to complete the full set of stations.
- Dataset of the Global Surface Summary of the Day (GSOD, see blue points in Figure 1) from the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). Stations exceeding more than 20% of missing values in ECA & D and GSOD in the period between 1996 and 2016 were removed from the dataset.
- A couple of stations from HEAT-SHIELD case studies were included in the set of stations: Data from one station in Celje (Slovenia), near the Odelo d.o.o. manufacturing plant , provided by the Slovenian Environment Agency (ARSO), and from one station in Arezzo (Tuscany, Italy) provided by Regional Service of Tuscany (CFR).
2.2. Heat Stress Indicator
2.3. HEAT-SHIELD Platform Outputs
2.3.1. Non-Customized HEAT-SHIELD Platform Outputs
2.3.2. Customized HEAT-SHIELD Platform Outputs
- Not significant: No special precautions are required and no further breaks than usual are needed.
- Low: You should be able to maintain normal activities. You may experience heat strain (generally low) and increased sweating. Consider clothing adjustment and drink more than normal.
- Moderate: Your water needs will be high. Increase the number of breaks (include small breaks with cooling) and drink frequently. Remember to rehydrate after work/exercise: Be aware that thirst is usually not a sufficient indicator when sweating is high. If this risk level is forecasted during the first summer days, pay extra attention to increase drinking and keep a good hydration status (drink/rehydrate with your meals) outside working hours. Consider adjusting the timing of activities (heavy physical tasks) to the cooler period of the day.
- High: This level is associated with severe heat stress. It is strongly suggested to adjust work—use active cooling, schedule frequent breaks in shadowed or cool areas where you can hydrate. Additional drinking is required (water needs may be more than 1 L/h). If possible, after consulting your doctor, add mineral salts to your meals. Consider adjusting the timing of activities (moderate–heavy physical tasks) to the cooler period of the day.
2.3.3. Forecast Verification
3.1. HEAT-SHIELD Platform Interface and Outputs
- Height (cm) and weight (kg);
- The location, which must be chosen by the user after indicating the exact address for which the forecast is need and double clicking on the available shield (one of the 1798 stations) nearest and with similar altitude to the location of interest;
- The physical activity level (low, moderate, high, and very high);
- The work environment (outdoors in the sun or shade);
- The type of clothing or PPE worn during work.
3.2. WBGT Forecast Verification
- the HEAT-SHIELD platform is multilingual.
- The local-heat-stress-risk forecast is “customized” based on:
- the worker’s physical characteristics (specifically height and weight),
- the physical activity level,
- the clothing or PPE worn during work,
- the work environment (outdoors in the sun or shade),
- also taking into account whether the worker is acclimatized or not to the heat.
- The short-term heat risk forecast (5-day forecasts) includes behavioral recommendations related to how much hydration (water intake) and rest (work breaks) during the worst (in term of heat stress) hour of the day.
- Long-term heat risk forecasts are available up to just over one month (46 days).
Conflicts of Interest
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Risk Levels and Color Codes
|WBGT Levels||Work Breaks||Water Consumption (Hydration)||HEAT-SHIELD Recommendations|
RL ≤ 80%
from MMR to VHMR
|No special precautions are required: Maintain normal working and hydration procedures.|
80% < RL < 100%
LMR and MMR
HMR and VHMR
|Pre-alarm (attention): Pay attention to frequent drinking and plan small breaks.|
100% ≤ RL < 120%
LMR and MMR
HMR and VHMR
|Alarm: Drink frequently and increase the number of breaks with cooling.|
RL ≥ 120%
LMR and MMR
HMR and VHMR
|Emergency: Drink often, even more than 1 L/h and schedule frequent breaks in shadowed or cool area.|
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