Task performance in heat: a review

Ergonomics. 1995 Jan;38(1):154-65. doi: 10.1080/00140139508925092.


A wide array of variable conditions, tasks, subject populations, etc., have been included in studies that have produced data on perceptual motor performance in the heat. This paper uses a methodology for comparing these studies, regardless of the inherent differences, which allows determination of whether thermal effects are dominant enough to persist through diverse combinations of variables. Approximately 160 individual studies of perceptual motor performance reported in the literature were summarized based on thermal level, duration of exposure and the type of task performed. Results indicated no dominant effect of duration of exposure to the heat and no dominant effect of thermal level on mental/cognitive tasks. For perceptual motor tasks other than very simple or mental tasks, an onset of performance decrement was noted in the 30-33 degrees C WBGT range of temperature. This temperature level is consistent with the Recommended Exposure Limits for work in the heat at low levels of metabolic heat.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Arousal
  • Attention
  • Hot Temperature / adverse effects*
  • Humans
  • Maximum Allowable Concentration
  • Occupational Exposure / adverse effects*
  • Psychomotor Performance
  • Stress, Physiological / complications*
  • Stress, Physiological / psychology
  • Work Capacity Evaluation