Protective clothing (PPC) can have negative effects on worker performance. Currently little is known about the metabolic effects of PPC and previous work has been limited to a few garments and simple walking or stepping. This study investigated the effects of a wide range of PPC on energy consumption during different activities. It is hypothesized that wearing PPC would significantly increase metabolic rate, disproportionally to its weight, during walking, stepping and an obstacle course. Measuring a person’s oxygen consumption during work can give an indirect, but accurate estimate of energy expenditure (metabolic rate). Oxygen consumption was measured during the performance of continuous walking and stepping, and an obstacle course in 14 different PPC ensembles. Increases in perceived exertion and in metabolic rate (2.4–20.9%) when wearing a range of PPC garments compared to a control condition were seen, with increases above 10% being significant (P < 0.05). More than half of the increase could not be attributed to ensemble weight.
PPE Protective clothing Metabolic rate Oxygen consumption Energy expenditure
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This study was partially supported by funding from the European Union project THERMPROTECT G6RD-CT-2002-00846.
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