Heat Exposure and Physiological Changes among Cooks
Cooks who are exposed to heat produced from stoves when working in the kitchen are at risk of thermal stress and heat-related illness. Physiological changes such as increased heart rate, sweat production and blood pressure may also affect them. This study aimed to determine the area heat exposure levels and physiological changes including core body temperature, blood pressure and heart rate during pre-, mid- and post-shift among cooks and its association, and to compare the mean difference of physiological changes between the shifts. This cross-sectional study utilised the purposive sampling method and recruited 30 cooks from food stalls and cafeterias in Kelantan. Area heat measurements were collected from 14 sites (7 inside and 7 outside the USM Health Campus). Wet-bulb Globe Temperature (WBGT) monitor was mounted on a tripod at 1.1 m height near the source of heat for 8 hours. The core body temperature, blood pressure, and heart rate were taken three times per day during pre-, mid- and post-shift for physiological changes measurement. Respondents’ personal information, health history, work description, and symptoms of heat-related illness were collected using a questionnaire. The overall WBGT area levels at each sampling site were homogeneously distributed. There was significant increase in core body temperature and heart rate from pre-shift to post-shift. However, there was no significant correlation (p>0.05) between heat exposure (WBGT index) established with the physiological changes. This may suggest that the increase in core body temperature and heart rate might be attributed to other factors and needed further investigation.
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