Advice paper issued on hypoxia

Mountain Medicine

The UIAA Medical Commission has published a new paper that offers health and safety advice on hypoxia.

More and more people – no longer just climbers at high altitude – can be affected by hypoxia, a condition in which the body is deprived of an adequate supply of oxygen.

For example, hypoxia is now also being used for fire prevention in storage areas, for altitude training in sport and for many other purposes, the Medical Commission says. As a consequence more and more employees and other persons are exposed to hypoxia.

This is why the panel of medical experts decided to issue the document, “Work in Hypoxic Conditions”.

Due to the UIAA’s expertise for activities in a low oxygen environment, the commission says it has “a special responsibility to coordinate an international consensus on this topic”.

Up to now there has been no consensus on how to provide occupational health and safety advice. Most regulations do not take into account the kind of exposure or other circumstances (e.g. whether the person is able to “escape” from hypoxia at any time). Regulations do not define the type or degree of different risks – if any – and therefore a more specialised analysis of the individual exposure is necessary to provide adequate advice for health and safety.

The paper is divided into several sections for ease of use, showing the difference between the various types of exposure to hypoxic conditions, and their consequences, the procedures of preventive medical care in Occupational Medicine and safety for people working in different hypoxic situation