Beat the HEAT:How are work/rest cycles calculated?

  • Published
  • By 72nd Aerospace Medicine Squadron
  • Bioenvironmental Engineering Flight
72nd Aerospace Medicine Squadron, Bioenvironmental Engineering Flight
With record high temperatures already here, Tinker personnel may be experiencing a little more stress in the way of "heat stress."

With prevention, the harmful effects of heat can be avoided.

There are many environmental factors that contribute to heat stress, including ambient temperature, relative humidity, solar load and wind speed. While environmental factors cannot always be easily controlled, the effects of heat on the human body can be controlled with proper precautions.

Those precautions include proper hydration with water and electrolyte replacement fluids, light-loose fitting clothing to promote evaporative cooling, taking breaks in shaded areas and acclimation to working in a hot environment.

Just as important is being able to recognize signs and symptoms related to heat stress. This could prevent a person's exposure from becoming a more serious health issue.
There are many factors to consider when battling heat stress: proper hydration, physical fitness, being aware of the current HeatCon and, finally, using the Wingman concept when it gets warm and taking care of people. The Air Force uses a Wet Bulb Globe Temperature instrument to measure environmental heat factors. The WBGT value should not be confused with the ambient temperature which is the temperature of the air without regard to the effects of humidity, radiant heat of the sun and wind speed or other heat indexes from weather stations, civilian radio or news reports.

These WBGT values are used in conjunction with working conditions to form a "Heat-Condition" or "HeatCon." Tinker's HeatCon's are calculated by the 72nd Aerospace Medicine Squadron's Bioenviron-mental Engineering Flight.

The HeatCon ranges from 0 (no condition) to 5 (most severe condition). When the forecasted high temperature of 85 degrees is expected, monitoring is conducted four times daily.

If Tinker reaches HeatCon 3, hourly monitoring will be conducted and reported. Heat stress recommendations are represented by both numbers and flag colors.

The Bioenvironmental Engineering Flight posts WBGT value via the Tinker Home Page under the "HeatCon" tab. Accordingly, water intake and rest cycles are recommended and can be used as a tool for commanders, directors and supervisors so they exercise Operational Risk Management for their employees. (See chart below)
Additionally, the HeatCon is posted on the plasma screens that are strategically located throughout Tinker's industrial complex. For those employees who perform flight-line duties or don't otherwise have access to a computer/plasma screen, the 76th Maintenance Operations Center and the 552nd MOC as well as Tinker's Command Post is notified during HeatCons 3 to 5 for dissemination via radio.

Remember, don't be a victim of heat stress. For more information, call Bioenvironmental Engineering at 734-7844.