Perceived challenges and barriers for females working in the heat

J Occup Environ Hyg. 2023 Oct 6:1-11. doi: 10.1080/15459624.2023.2268725. Online ahead of print.


Given rising temperatures, globally, heat exposures and catastrophic heat illnesses are a major concern in laborer and industrial sectors. The purpose of this study was to evaluate the perceptions of females laboring in the heat regarding challenges and barriers encountered in their respective industries while working in the heat. A consensual qualitative research (CQR) design was employed to gain information related to participant occupational and job characteristics, feelings while working in the heat, adjustments made by employers when they work in the heat, and their experience working in the heat specific to their identified sex. Females were eligible to participate if they were currently employed in an environment that required them to work in the heat. Twelve females participated in a single, 45-60 min one-on-one semi-structured interview. Participants reported working in the manufacturing, agriculture, tourism, and railroad industries. Upon completion of data analysis, one primary theme was identified: heat stress mitigation strategies, which were further broken down into two subthemes of formal strategies provided by the employer and informal strategies driven by the employees. Participants indicated there was a lack of heat stress prevention strategies implemented by their employers, which resulted in employees creating their own strategies to protect themselves and their coworkers from heat stress. Results indicated there are limited heat stress prevention strategies that are provided in industries that include females working in the heat. Unique considerations should be made to protect this population from the dangers of heat stress and must go beyond workers protecting themselves.

Keywords: Heat stress; occupational; prevention; qualitative.