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Reduced work tolerance associated with wearing protective clothing and respirators.

White-MK; Hodous-TK
Am Ind Hyg Assoc J 1987 Apr; 48(4):304-310
Clothing ensemble (through the extent to which it adds weight and alters heat transfer) and work level (through metabolic heat production) were evaluated as factors of potential significance in determining cardiorespiratory and thermal stress in the workplace. The subjects of this investigation were nine male volunteers between the ages of 21 and 34 years, all with prior use and knowledge of handling of respirators and protective clothing. Two workloads performed on a treadmill and representing 30 and 60 percent of each subject's aerobic capacity were chosen for submaximal tests. During these tests subjects performed while attired in one of four increasingly protective clothing ensembles: (a) light work clothing with a low resistance mask; (b) light work clothing with a self contained breathing apparatus; (c) firefighter's gear with a self contained breathing apparatus; or (d) chemical protective ensemble with self contained breathing apparatus. Significant decreases in workload tolerance to 22.2 percent, 84.4 percent and 56.3 percent for low intensity exercise and 74.4 percent, 95.6 percent and 85.6 percent for high intensity exercise for ensembles (b), (c) and (d) as compared to ensemble (a) were observed. These data and other reported physiological measurements indicated that during high intensity exercise, protective clothing and respirators severely limited the subjects' ability to perform work. Responses observed in this study suggested that heart rate was a more reliable indicator of overall work tolerance in the field and a more reliable gauge of worker capacity than measurements of skin or rectal temperatures.
NIOSH-Author; Chemical-industry-workers; Firemen; Work-performance; Work-capacity; Work-clothing; Worker-health; Body-protection; Fire-protection; Respiratory-protection; Personal-protective-equipment
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Journal Article
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NTIS Accession No.
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Priority Area
Control Technology and Personal Protective Equipment; Research Tools and Approaches
Source Name
American Industrial Hygiene Association Journal