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2018 sees large heat stress study on Northern Territory mine workers

Heat Stress Study

Thermal physiologist Matt Brearley, MRM Safety Superintendent Stephen McGruddy, epidemiologist Emma Field and MRM General Manager Sam Strohmayr

Workers at a mine site in the Gulf of Carpentaria are being studied through 2018 to determine the effects of heat stress on the workforce and their productivity.

This study is being conducted at Glencore’s McArthur River Mine (MRM) and is a collaboration between Charles Darwin University, the Menzies School of Health Research and the Heat Stress Research Partnership.

It is being funded by Glencore who are striving to improve the health and safety of the 1000 workers at the MRM site, a zinc-lead mine and processing facility.

While MRM already actively manages the risk of heat stress through a range of strategies, they would like to find out if there are ways to further reduce the impact of heat stress on the workforce.

MRM General Manager, Sam Strohmayr said: “Anything we can do to reduce the risk of heat stress will improve health and safety, and contribute to a better working environment.”

“The reality is that some people need to work outside and they are going to be exposed to heat,” Mr Strohmayr said, adding that the study will benefit anyone who worked outside in Northern Australia.

Project leader and Menzies researcher, Emma Field said the research would contribute to effective prevention measures for all industries working in hot and humid environments.

“The 15-month project to identify the incidence, causes and impacts of heat stress in the MRM workforce began in October [2017] with site assessments and staff surveys; physiological monitoring and work practice observations [taking place] in December,” Ms Field said.

“The Menzies team will provide recommendations for practical and low cost interventions to reduce risk of heat stress.”

The research will also evaluate the implementation of the recommended strategies and will take a multidisciplinary approach, combining epidemiological, sociological and physiological research.

Also involved in the study is leading heat stress specialist and thermal physiologist, Dr Matt Brearley, who has previously written for THORZT and been interviewed for articles on numerous occasions.

About the Heat Stress Research Partnership

Formed in response to the “profound impact of heat stress in northern Australia’s monsoon tropics” the Heat Stress Research Partnership (HSRP) is an industry-research collaboration.

Their objective is to support appropriate heat stress management practices for hot and humid conditions, with a focus on the labour intensive outdoor workforce.

About the Menzies School of Research:

The Menzies School of Research is a leader in global and tropical research into life-threatening illnesses. It is Australia’s leading medical research institute dedicated to improving the health and wellbeing of Indigenous Australians.