Link to the full article from Kansas City Business Journal
By Leslie Collins, Staff Writer, Kansas City Business Journal
Heidi Lehmann is co-founder and chief commercialization officer of Kenzen.
Heidi Lehmann has built companies in New York, Silicon Valley and near Boston. Now, the serial entrepreneur is building Kenzen in Kansas City.
“There’s a lot of intellectual capital here around industrial technology that you’re going to be hard-pressed to find in other places,” Lehmann said. “It just helps you gain depth in what you’re doing. … Because then there’s more of a roadmap, and you see which way you need to build and which route is the right way to proceed.”
Lehmann, co-founder and chief commercialization officer, wants to make Kenzen the premier physiological monitoring platform to protect workers from such safety threats as heat-related injuries and overexertion. Kenzen’s service includes a device workers wear to monitor physiological changes. It’s waterproof and ruggedized, and its design ensures safe operation in hazardous areas.
It’s all part of the industrial Internet of Things.
“It’s an absolutely enormous space, and I think, more and more, there’s this realization that there’s been a lot done to protect machines but not as much to protect workers.”
Lehmann chose Kansas City as the main headquarters for several reasons: affordability; a talent base being cultivated by companies like Garmin Ltd. and Cerner Corp.; and access to investors, domain expertise and potential customers.
The area also offers companies in adjacent markets, such as SafetyCulture, which helps customers monitor and audit measures to increase workplace safety. The two have compared notes, such as trends they’re seeing. A rising tide lifts all boats, Lehmann said.
More than just housing innovative companies, Kansas City backs them. To date, Kenzen has raised about $10 million, with its biggest concentration of investors in Kansas City. Two early investors, Women’s Capital Connection and Mid-America Angels, spurred additional links to area investors.
KCRise Fund, a locally focused venture capital fund, introduced Kenzen to prospective customers, including two that are in serious discussions. The startup’s local office is inside the headquarters of VC fund Royal Street Ventures. Lehmann can easily walk across the hall for advice.
Another local investor is Examinetics Inc., an occupational health screening and testing company. Examinetics promotes Kenzen’s offering to its base of 3,000-plus clients in more than 15,000 locations. Kenzen gains access to an extensive network of customer relationships and accelerates its ability to scale.
As Kenzen enters its Series A funding round, Lehmann knows the company can count on area investors to make warm introductions.
“We have investors and partners that we couldn’t have accessed in other places. I can’t think of a better place to be based.”
What it does: Developed predictive physiological monitoring software and a wearable device designed to keep workforces safe from heat, fatigue and overexertion
Locations: Dual headquarters in Kansas City and New York City
The outlook: Kenzen sits in the Internet of Things category, which is expected to grow from $726 billion in 2019 to $1.1 trillion by 2023. Kenzen has customers worldwide and expects its Examinetics partnership will help it reach the “next phase of growth.”
KENZEN LAUNCHES DATA DASHBOARD THAT ANALYZES SAFETY AND PRODUCTIVITY OF WORKERS IN HOT AND HUMID CONDITIONS
NEW YORK CITY (March 23, 2021) – Kenzen has launched a data and analytics dashboard, the latest component of its smart PPE connected worker solution. The dashboard captures workers’ core body temperature (the greatest predictor of heat stress and illness), productivity, and microclimates caused by clothing under hot and humid working conditions.
Environmental Health and Safety (EHS) managers and company leaders can now have a data-driven overview of work sites, both real time and retrospectively, to evaluate heat risk information by location and job role. The analysis consists of tens of thousands of data points collected per worker per day from the Kenzen wearable which tracks physiological factors including core temperature and heart rate. The Kenzen system uniquely enables companies to identify and address challenges and opportunities related to work in hot and humid conditions. The information allows them to manage risk and improve processes to keep workers safer and more productive.
Last year, Kenzen unveiled the monitoring device and its complimentary mobile app that alerts workers when they are at risk of heat stress and illness and when to stop work, rest, and return to work safely. The hardware and app work together to feed data to the real-time dashboard for supervisors to monitor their teams proactively and intervene when necessary.
Kenzen’s new analytics dashboard allows senior managers, who on average are responsible for 10 teams of 10 people each day, to dig deeper into the data and have a holistic view across worksites and teams. The dashboard provides insight into how various environments affect workers and uses the information to guide management in the implementation of changes to keep workers safer while optimizing productivity. Actionable feedback enables tailoring of work/rest schedules and identification of PPE clothing with the least impact on worker performance.
The complete Kenzen solution integrates the company’s commitment to personal data privacy; only workers can view the details of their personal health information and safety managers and other EHS leaders only see what’s necessary to keep the worker safe.
“The latest tool in the Kenzen connected worker solution comes just in time for a summer that’s expected to be one of the most extreme on record,” said Heidi Lehmann, Kenzen co-founder and chief commercial officer. Lehmann adds that, for every 10-degree Fahrenheit increase in temperature, there is a 393 percent increase in hospitalizations for heat exposure. “Now companies have the power to predict and prevent heat-related injuries and deaths and manage productivity at the same time.”
Founded in 2016, Kenzen is the premier physiological monitoring platform to keep workforces safe from heat, fatigue, and over exertion on the job while providing data driven insights to maintain productivity. For more information about heat stress and how to integrate the system into a safety plan, visit Kenzen.com.
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A Case Study in Preventing Heat Risk for 28 Workers in 10 Cities During the Hot Summer of 2020
By Ryan Smith, Regional Safety Manager, Garney Construction
Garney Construction is always looking for new ways to help bolster its safety program. An assistant project manager, working in hot and humid south Florida, researched heat safety and ways to keep the crews as safe as possible during the hot summer months. What he found were smart personal protective equipment wearable health monitors. Garney management decided to explore the benefits of continuously monitoring its employee-owners at work sites to track heat stresses and help predict and prevent injuries and the risk of fatalities from overexertion in hot and humid environments.
Heat is a major concern on a construction site. Most workers think they know their bodies’ limits in the heat, but many don’t stop working when they reach those limits and push through signs of heat stress. Workers can self-monitor their bodies’ physiological factors with wearable devices, which indicate when the body starts to negatively respond to overexertion during hot and humid conditions. Garney decided to try the technology. Not only would workers receive warning signals when their bodies were under stress, managers would receive alerts to intervene if a worker was tempted to keep working, despite their body’s need for rest, hydration and other interventions to return to safe working levels.
During kick-off of the testing phase, the field staff was initially apprehensive. They had to remember to affix a sensor—in this case via an arm strap—that monitored certain health indicators throughout activity during the workday. But once the device was secured and comfortable, employee-owners were able to work normally and the device was largely forgotten. The crews wanted to know who would see their health data, but by partnering with the manufacturer for the training and onboarding, they were assured no one but them would see their personal information. The only information the supervisor would see would be an alert that indicated a worker’s body had reached a dangerous heat level, and work should stop to allow for rest and other cool-down practices, depending on the level of health risk.
Garney’s crews were working in several locations from California to Virginia. The company conducted week-long tests at 10 sites over the course of the two hottest working months of 2020. Data was collected by sensors on the workers that continuously monitored their heart rate, body temperature and respiration. Workers’ phones vibrated to indicate if a physiological threshold of safety had been surpassed. At the same time, managers on site received alerts on their tablets about individual employee-owners who needed to take a break and cool down. Via a team-view dashboard, they could track everyone’s heat health on site throughout the day.
Cumulative data from across all the test sites was compiled and analyzed by Garney’s Safety Council, made up of superintendents, project managers, safety professionals and officers who focus on the safety needs of the company. Analytics from the test helped the Safety Council determine the overall health and safety of workers across the entire business and the data was used to inform how to improve the company’s safety programs.
Garney now has the data to know when to provide rest breaks and treatment for individuals with varying levels of ability to work in the heat and humid. Age, weight, gender, fitness, medications and previous medical conditions all play a part in determining the tolerance of working in the heat. The frequency and length of breaks need to vary depending on those factors. Providing shade, hydration, ice baths, elevating feet and other tactics can aid in cooling the body. The PPE monitoring devices not only kept workers healthier, they increased productivity because the system was customized to each worker’s body needs, and when. This allows workers to perform better and more efficiently throughout the workday.
Advancements in technology have been improving all phases of construction for years. Having smart PPE monitoring devices in place is similar to when compact gas monitors became readily available. Protecting crews from unseen gas or lack of oxygen was once the job of a canary. The new worker wearable systems are the new canary in the coal mine with the potential to have the same impact on heat-related safety risks.
Click here for the full article from Construction Executive
Click here for the full article from EHS Daily Advisor
By Kyle Hubregtse
“Technology is taking us all over” is the most prolific comment I’ve heard lately, most recently from a crew member on a construction jobsite in the southeastern United States. When introducing wearable safety technology, EHS managers must employ knowledge, listening, and patience.
It’s true that technology has permeated many aspects of our life. It’s now commonplace to have new technology in our pockets and on the limbs of our bodies as our interests in convenience, productivity, health, and well-being increase. The early days of counting steps or calories were engaging, but technology has evolved significantly since then. Now, physiological data can be captured and analyzed in real time to promote peak performance and predict adverse health events, promoting interventions to change the course of a potential health risk. Such technical devices are increasingly being used by companies to monitor workers to increase safety and productivity. The power of health data is bringing valuable benefits to both individuals and their employers.
The choice to use a wearable device that measures and tracks personal health data is easier when wearers have confidence that the data the body is creating are safe and secure. But what happens when the choice isn’t necessarily their own? Smart wearables as personal protective equipment (PPE) are emerging on worksites, and when workers are mandated to wear the technology by their employers, many times, the first question from a worker is: “Are my personal data safe?” This is followed by questions such as “Where do my data go?” or “Who is watching me and my data?” and “Why is the company monitoring me?” These questions must be addressed and taken seriously … over and over again.
Consider that even worksite supervisors may have apprehension, given they are also employees and likely will be wearing the same or similar technology. They, too, may have certain on-site duties that cause stress on the body, even if those duties don’t involve heavy labor. By simply managing on-site in extreme environmental conditions, such as high heat and/or humidity, managers’ health data may also be collected and used to inform enhanced prevention and intervention procedures.
Clearly communicating how technology works; the benefits it provides to both the individual and the company; and the routing, visibility, storage, and deletion of data is vital at the onset of the use of any wearable technology. This information will need to be provided regularly to increase confidence and comfort with the technology and maximize its use and value.
Typically, during the early adoption stages, a common sentiment may arise among the workforce about technology in general taking over activities typically done by a worker or technology otherwise interfering with the work. Early adoption of any new technology causes apprehension, which can be addressed, again, through clear and consistent communications. Once technology starts to prove its value and concerns are allayed through its use, acceptance levels improve.
Industrial safety technology keeps workers safer on the job. In the unfortunate case of an incident, when technology plays a role in a positive outcome—such as preventing an injury or saving a life—technology champions on the team will come forward. There is a strong culture among teams on a jobsite; everyone looks out for each other. When technology protects a worker from harm, it converts skeptics into believers and behaviors toward the technology become more supportive. Technology champions are helpful because they educate their coworkers and encourage compliance. Health-monitoring wearable technology fits particularly well within this group culture, where people are used to watching out for each other’s well-being. One person seeing another faltering is an informal backup system to the technology, which alerts the worker when his or her body is stressed. If the person under stress tries to push through the work and disregard warnings from the device to stop, it’s likely another worker will intervene and encourage the distressed worker to pay attention to the warnings and rest.
As any safety manager knows, it’s easier to make changes to procedures in collaboration with your workforce, not against them. This is particularly true with the integration of new technology. Start with an open mind and a will to listen, respond, and learn more, and communicate if you don’t have all the answers at first. Be proactive about asking workers of different experiences and perspectives if they’re nervous or apprehensive about the change and why. Know as much as you can about the problems that are being addressed with the change. In the case of health-monitoring technology, it will be important to understand the physiological factors of the body that are being monitored and why they trigger interventions. These include heart rate and core body temperature. It’s also important to remember that everybody is different, so situations will vary for every worker. Some will acclimatize more quickly to heat and humidity, for example, and some will have certain health conditions that require a work-rest schedule unique to their body. Knowing the information makes it easier to educate, encourage, and respond to questions and feedback from workers. This elicits greater trust in the technology and the reasons it is being used by the company.