L’objectif de cet article était d’évaluer la capacité de la limite de travail thermique à recommander des niveaux maximaux durables de stress thermique en utilisant une base de données existante d’essais de stress thermique progressif utilisant quatre niveaux de vêtements (vêtements tissés, barrière de particules, barrière d’eau et barrière de vapeur), trois niveaux d’humidité relative et trois niveaux de taux métabolique.
Thermal Work Limit (TWL) recommends a maximum metabolic rate for a given environmental condition, clothing ensemble, and acclimatization state so that thermal equilibrium can be sustained at or below the limiting metabolic rate. The purpose of this paper was to assess the ability of TWL to recommend maximum sustainable levels of heat stress using an existing database of progressive heat stress trials using four levels of clothing (woven clothing, particle barrier, water barrier, and vapor barrier), three levels of relative humidity, and three levels of metabolic rate. Each trial had a compensable and an uncompensable observation plus and observation at the transition point from compensable to uncompensable. Each observation was classified as a case (steady increase in rectal temperature) or non-case (steady rectal temperature). The data were used to compare the difference between the observed metabolic rate (Mobs) and the limiting metabolic rate of TWL (i.e., ∆LimitTWL = Mobs − TWL), where ∆LimitTWL > 0 was above the TWL limit. The sensitivity and specificity for each of the four clothing ensembles were about 0.96 and about 0.20, respectively. Logistic regression for all the data found that ∆LimitTWL, clothing, metabolic rate, and water vapor pressure were significant predictors of outcome. The ln(odds) equations for each clothing ensemble predicted a probability of an uncompensable exposure. The probability of an uncompensable outcome (case) when ∆LimitTWL = 0 was 0.14 for work clothes and particle barrier, and 0.22 for water barrier and vapor barrier. The probability of a case at ∆LimitTWL = 0 was greater than the probability of a case for the wet bulb globe temperature-based exposure limits where the probability of a case was 0.01. That is, the TWL was less restrictive than WBGT but with higher risk.