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Ann Occup Hyg. 2009 Jun;53(4):325-32. doi: 10.1093/annhyg/mep012. Epub 2009 Mar 19.

Classification of thermal environments for comfort assessment.

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Department of Florence, Italian National Institute for Occupational Prevention and Safety, Via G. LaPira 17, 50121 Firenze, Italy.


According to ISO 7730:2005, classification is a mandatory precondition for thermal comfort assessment since the appropriate criterion depends on which category the specific work situation (SWS) investigated belongs to. Unfortunately, while the standard does include three different comfort criteria, it does not indicate how the appropriate criterion should be selected. This paper presents a classification scheme that allows thermal comfort assessment to be reliably performed in any environment. The model is based on an algorithm that calculates a score by means of a weighted product of three quantities, each one taking care of a specific, highly relevant element: the subject's thermal sensitivity, the accuracy required for carrying out the task and the practicality of thermal control. The scheme's simple modular structure can easily accommodate both changes and additions, should other hypothetical elements be identified to be as relevant to the classification scheme. The model presented allows a modulation of comfort levels across different social groups. It is so possible to provide extra care for children, elderly, pregnant women, disabled and other 'weak' categories, as required by ISO/TS 14415:2005, by setting the highest comfort level. Finally, it also widens the options for simultaneously establishing comfort conditions for different individuals performing different tasks in the same area and clarifies whose comfort should be pursued with the highest priority.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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