RMC’s Director and Research Scientist Dr. Heath Prince co-authored an article outlining interventions to prevent occupational heat stress in laborers during physically demanding work in high environmental temperatures. The article titled “Workplace Intervention for Heat Stress: Essential Elements of Design, Implementation, and Assessment” was published on March 22, 2022, in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health (IJEPH) by MDPI Open Access Journals and can be found here.
Heat stress is associated with numerous health effects that potentially harm workers, especially in a warming world. This investigation occurred in a setting where laborers are confronted with occupational heat stress from physically demanding work in high environmental temperatures. Collaboration with a major Nicaraguan sugarcane producer offered the opportunity to study interventions to prevent occupational heat-stress-related kidney disease. Two aims for this study of a rest-shade-water intervention program were: (1) describe the evolving intervention, summarize findings that motivated proposed improvements, assess impact of those improvements, and identify challenges to successful implementation and (2) extract primary lessons learned about intervention research that have both general relevance to investigations of work-related disease prevention and specific relevance to this setting. The learning curve for the various stakeholders as well as the barriers to success demonstrate that effectiveness of an intervention cannot be adequately assessed without considerations of implementation. Designing, effectively implementing, and assessing both health impacts and implementation quality is a resource-intensive endeavor requiring a transdisciplinary approach. Both general and specific lessons learned are presented for decisions on study design and study elements, implementation assessment, and management engagement in understanding how productivity and health can be successfully balanced and for building effective communication between investigators and all levels of management.