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March 19, 2010

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Research – Testing temperature

The findings of research into non-intrusive measurement of core body temperature in industrial environments have been published.

The research, which was conducted by the Institute of Occupational Medicine Ltd (IOM), was funded by the British Glass Manufacturers’ Confederation and its members, IOSH, and a number of trade unions and trade federations.

In order to identify a non-intrusive method of monitoring workers’ core body temperature, the project aimed to establish a consistent relationship between core body temperature and that of the tympanic membrane of the ear.

Currently, the only reliable method for establishing an individual’s core body temperature has been the use of rectal thermometers, or through ingestion of a temperature-sensitive intra-gastric pill – neither of which are feasible in most industrial environments where heat stress is a concern.

Studies were carried out in workplace environments where individuals are exposed to elevated temperatures, including furnace operations in both glass and cast-metals manufacture.

Individuals in these organisations volunteered to take part in the study and ingested an intra-gastric pill. IOM staff then compared the data from these pills to temperatures taken using a non-intrusive infrared thermometer.

The project identified a methodology for the use of non-intrusive infrared thermometers, and the subsequent report provides useful guidance and feedback for managing of hot-work processes. However, it has not yet established sufficient reliability for this to be used as a monitoring or screening tool to prevent excessive heat exposure.

The HSE, which supported the initial project, has now released additional funding for a second project, which aims to improve the reliability of the test method.

The full project report, ‘Reliable Industrial Measurement of Core Body Temperature’, is available from the British Glass website at: www.britglass.org.uk/Files/HealthSafety/Reliable_Industrial_Measurement_of_Core_Body_Temperature.pdf

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