Physiological criteria for functioning of hands in the cold. A review

Ronald Heus*, Hein A M Daanen, George Havenith

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to JournalReview articleAcademicpeer-review


Hands are important instruments in daily life. Without hands man is hardly able to function independently. Proper functioning of the hands is determined by several physiological parameters. These physiological parameters in turn are influenced by environmental factors. In this view of the literature, physiological processes in manual dexterity are described and the influence of a cold environment on separate physiological processes is studied. In general, cold means loss of dexterity. For reasons of safety and performance, it is important to restrict the loss of manual dexterity. For this purpose, in this study minimum criteria are given for all separate physiological components. Most important minimum criteria are: a local skin temperature of 15 °C, a nerve temperature of 20 °C and a muscle temperature of 28 °C. Only during maximum dynamic work is a muscle temperature of 38 °C recommended. These temperatures are average values, and of course individual differences are evident.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)5-13
Number of pages9
JournalApplied Ergonomics
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1995


  • cold tolerance
  • manual dexterity
  • performance


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