Health and Performance Implications of Heat Stress in Confined Work Spaces (Vehicles)

Heat stress within confined spaces has been shown to raise thermal (core and skin temperature) and cardiovascular (heart rate) strain and predispose vehicle operators to symptoms of heat exhaustion including fatigue, orthostatic intolerance, and loss of concentration. Studies have also shown that exposure to conditions of heat stress, and elevations in physiological strain can be associated with reduced task performance and increased rates of error. Therefore, the environmental conditions within vehicles need to be considered in procurement programs to prevent exposure of occupants to a level of physiological strain that is likely to result in deterioration in health and performance.


The E3 team in collaboration with the Defence Science and Technology Group provided scientific and research support to the Australian Army in selecting the most appropriate vehicles for acquisition. The project aimed to determine whether the environmental conditions within military vehicles were commensurate with preventing deterioration in health and performance during operation of, or transportation in, the vehicles. The study involved on-site assessment of the environmental conditions inside military vehicles in a variety of locations and military activities, as well as monitoring the physiological strain of the crew members and vehicle occupants. The findings made a valuable contribution to the vehicle selection process of the Australian Army and gave confidence to commanders seeking to ensure personnel health and performance when operating the vehicles in harsh environments.

Funding / Grants

  • Defence Science Technology Group

Other Team Members

S. Smith (University of Queensland) A. Bach D. Borg S. Zietek