Wearable climate tech, like this arm-worn sensor from Kenzen, helps protect workers from heat in increasingly extreme temperatures. (Photo: Business Wire)
In 2022, the problem is getting attention: President Biden has announced emergency Federal Heat Rules and tasked the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) to set new standards. Tech entrepreneurs are innovating ways to track and prevent the dangers of heat on the body.
“There is new tech that can save workers’ lives,” said Heidi Lehmann, a tech entrepreneur whose latest venture is Kenzen, maker of a wearable device that monitors workers’ physiology to predict and prevent heat injuries and deaths. “Progressive employers are already incorporating tech that tracks worker wellness.”
Kenzen has equipped first responders, miners, and workers in construction, energy, steel, and manufacturing with sensors that continuously monitor their physiology to assess core body temperature, sweat rate, and exertion. She welcomes legislation that will mandate the care needed for overheated bodies – breaks, water, and cooling techniques – yet warns that standards should not be one-size-fits-all. Biological sex, age, fitness, acclimatization, and other individual factors dictate what each worker needs to stay safe and productive.
“Heat monitoring is key to achieving ‘Total Worker Health.’ Every person has a different threshold for being able to withstand hot temperatures and hot work. Across-the-board mandates will not curb the alarming statistics. Advanced technology for a personalized approach needs to be part of the solution,” said Lehmann.
Kenzen sensors gather tens of thousands of data points per worker per shift. Through research and validation with top universities and use of its system by more than 50 companies, Kenzen has amassed the largest known dataset of continuous core body temperature in the world.
The Kenzen device warns workers, via haptic vibration, when their physiology indicates danger of heat stress. Managers get an alert via an app when a worker needs an intervention to stay safe. A second alert indicates when the worker’s body is ready to resume work. Corporate safety leaders use an analytics dashboard to make enterprise-wide decisions to minimize heat risks, reduce injuries, and improve productivity. They may adjust work schedules or assign certain tasks to individuals. Throughout the process, personal data is protected; only workers can view their health information while others only see what is necessary to keep workers safe.
“Worker heat health is at the forefront of industry in 2022,” said Lehmann, whose backers include Working Capital Fund, which invests in companies that meet the growing demand for more transparent and ethical supply chains that protect workers.
Perennially recognized as one of America’s safest builders, McCarthy Building Companies, Inc. is partnering with Kenzen to pilot wearable heat monitoring technology on multiple construction projects. Kenzen’s smart PPE devices monitor the heat status of workers in hot and humid conditions, helping predict and prevent heat stress and illness. Together, the organizations will gain valuable insight into how the technology can minimize the risk of heat illness and protect the broader construction workforce.
“Safety is the most important thing we do every day, and on many projects that includes heat awareness and heat illness prevention,” said McCarthy Vice President National Safety Pat Devero. “The Kenzen system is already helping us identify new ways to prevent heat illness, assist in validating our current practices and heat illness expectations, and is a great example of how embracing technology can improve our industry’s approach to health and safety.”
The Kenzen devices worn by workers contain sensors that monitor, in real-time, an individual’s physiological markers that trigger heat injury risks. This includes a sweat rate monitoring feature that uses a worker’s information and physiological data to calculate and predict their sweat rate in liters per hour. Using a proprietary algorithm, the Kenzen device can alert workers of dangerous heat stress via a smart phone app. The data helps eliminate guesswork about how to keep workers safely hydrated and makes it possible for individual workers to know the specific amount of water they need to drink to stay safe.
On-site managers have access to alerts and corporate safety leaders use an analytics dashboard to monitor and evaluate risks to individuals and teams, helping them optimize worker safety. McCarthy will use the technology to identify broad trends that affect all projects and implement preventative measures to increase safety and productivity.
“The Kenzen pilot was a valuable program for our jobsite,” said Andrew Rhines, McCarthy Project Safety Coordinator in Texas. “It benefitted the craft professionals on our site and the data gathered by Kenzen helped verify many different aspects of our national heat illness prevention plans including water consumption and scheduled breaks.”
McCarthy and Kenzen are equally committed to protecting user data; the system does not reveal personal information or reasons why someone is in a particular heat risk category; it is only used to monitor and manage people according to their individual heat susceptibility.
McCarthy makes education about heat illness and injury prevention a priority during the spring and early summer as temperatures increase. The company shares educational information internally, hosts on-site educational and training sessions, and makes resources available for its workforce in-person and online. On projects in high heat areas, McCarthy provides hydration aids, shade stations, cooling fans and brimmed head protection to reduce heat. It’s also common for the projects to alter schedules, allowing the day’s work to be completed before the hottest portion of the day.
From 1992 through 2017, there were 70,000 serious injuries and 815 deaths caused by exposure to excessive heat, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Of the 492 occupational fatalities attributed to exposure to environmental heat from 2003 to 2016, 179, or 36 percent, were in the construction industry.
“McCarthy is a leader in exploring all opportunities to keep employees safe,” said Heidi Lehmann, Kenzen co-founder and President. “With the Kenzen system, they can tailor their approach to individuals, teams, and projects because they have access to new, highly detailed information. This information helps manage risk, realize increased productivity, and meet every worker’s unique requirements for working safely.”
McCarthy has selected several pilot opportunities for the Kenzen system on jobsites in Arizona, Georgia and Texas. Employees using the system understand the protective value it offers and appreciate receiving notifications about their core body temperature, sweat rate, and hydration status – when they should stop and rest, and when it’s safe to return to work.
“The Kenzen system has been a successful initiative for our team and how we approach heat illness risk onsite,” said Sean Blakemore, McCarthy Project Safety Manager in Texas. “The entire Kenzen team is resourceful and is helping us maximize management of the program. The data we’re gathering is a significant benefit for us to not only verify and confirm our current approach, but it also helps everyone understand what drives the additional mitigation measures we take in order to send everyone home safely at the end of each day.”
McCarthy Building Companies, Inc. is the oldest privately held national construction company in the country – with more than 150 years spent collaborating with partners to solve complex building challenges on behalf of its clients. With an unrelenting focus on safety and a comprehensive quality program that span all phases of every project, McCarthy utilizes industry-leading design phase and construction techniques combined with value-add technology to maximize outcomes. Repeatedly honored as a Best Place to Work and Healthiest Employer, McCarthy is ranked the 13th largest domestic builder (Engineering News-Record, May 2021). With approximately 5,000 salaried employees and craft professionals, the firm has offices in St. Louis; Atlanta; Collinsville, Ill.; Kansas City, Kan.; Omaha, Neb.; Phoenix; Las Vegas; Denver; Dallas, Houston; and San Diego, Newport Beach, Los Angeles, San Francisco, San Jose and Sacramento, Calif. McCarthy is 100 percent employee owned. More information about the company is available online at www.mccarthy.com or by following the company on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Instagram.
Rapid deployment of life-saving smart PPE critical for hottest summer on record ahead
NEW YORK CITY (May 11, 2021) – In anticipation of what the U.S. National Weather Service and U.K. Met Office predict to be the hottest summer on record, Kenzen, makers of smart PPE that monitors the heat health of workers in hot and humid conditions, announced a new rental program for its wearable devices. The rental program is being launched to help companies of all sizes across many industries protect workers and maintain productivity during the 2021 summer working season.
Kenzen sells its solution as a system that includes wearable worker monitors, a worker alert app, a manager app for on-site supervisors to predict and prevent heat stress for individuals on the job, and a data analytics dashboard for corporate Environmental Health and Safety (EHS) leaders to track patterns and make improvements to their heat safety programs.
To allow companies of all sizes to quickly deploy the new technology, Kenzen is offering rental packages of 10, 20, and 50 devices. The Kenzen kit includes devices, armbands, device chargers, apps available for both iOS and Android phones, and packaging for easy returns at the end of the rental period.
Packages can be rented for a two-month period online at store.kenzen.com, where training videos provide instructions for use and deployment. Kenzen also provides a snapshot of workers’ risk level and alerts after the rental period, which can be used by companies to enhance their heat intervention techniques such as locations of shaded areas, hydration stations and ice baths, and PPE clothing selections.
Kenzen devices are worn by workers and contain sensors that monitor, in real-time, an individual’s physiological markers that trigger heat injury risks. The worker is warned of heat danger via a smartphone app that vibrates and gives next-step instructions, as well as vibrations on the device they are wearing. Managers have a corresponding app that alerts them when a worker needs an intervention to stop work, rest, and hydrate, and when it is safe to return to work.
“We’re on a mission to protect as many workers as possible from the hot and humid season ahead,” said Heidi Lehmann, Kenzen Co-Founder and Chief Commercial Officer. “Our goal is to have at least 5,000 devices in the field before temperatures peak – protecting construction workers, road pavers, agricultural teams, roofers, drivers, and anyone who works outdoors.” Lehmann adds that, for every 10-degree Fahrenheit increase in temperature, there is a 393- percent increase in hospitalizations for heat exposure. “Now companies of all sizes have the power to predict and prevent heat-related injuries and deaths while managing productivity at the same time.”
Optional add-ons to the rental packages include the EHS analytics dashboard and on-site consultation and training. The Kenzen device rental program is available globally.
The 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 workers safe.
Kenzen has deployed its award-winning heat monitors with workforces across the globe in domains such as construction, mining, field services, manufacturing, renewable energy, utility oil and gas, and transportation.
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.
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.