Heat Stress Indicators to Watch For During the Hot Summer Ahead

Heat Stress Indicators to Watch For During the Hot Summer Ahead

Link to the full article from Construction Executive

By Michael Prewitt | Tuesday, May 25, 2021

The warming months are bringing heat safety to mind for anyone who works outside or in a challenging hot environment. How bad is it going to get? And what can be done to make it easier on everyone? These are common questions that arise this time of year.

Humans have an incredible ability to adapt to varying environments, but adaptation to heat takes time and varies by individual. Acclimatization to heat can take from two to three weeks when done properly and risks the worker’s health and work site safety if not done properly.

Appropriate heat acclimatization is accomplished by increasing one’s core body temperature 1°C for an hour each day during the work period. If the job requires PPE, as most do, workers need to slowly add PPE each day to balance acclimatization – adding 20% of clothing and equipment each day until the full worksite PPE can be worn. It’s not easy to put a worker that is used to cooler climates into a hot environment and have productivity and well-being stay the same. While it takes time and understanding of proper techniques, simple acclimatization steps make for a better, more productive jobsite in hot conditions.

Beyond acclimatization, dealing with heat during work is a complex problem. That’s because heat adaptability depends on how efficient a person is at cooling him or herself, via sweat, and there are several things that can contribute to that:

  • being older than 35;
  • psoriasis, cardiovascular disease or diabetes;
  • prescription drugs for a variety of illnesses;
  • over-the-counter drugs; and
  • nicotine and alcohol use.

Including all of that information in protective strategies can be a logistical challenge. Understanding the physiological functions can help inform what metrics to use for recognizing heat stress.

As a worker’s core body temperature rises, the primary mode of cooling off is through sweating. Blood flow is increased to the skin, water and electrolytes are expelled by the sweat glands, and the evaporation of sweat cools the body down. This process is very efficient, as long as evaporation can occur while activity level does not increase and adequate hydration occurs.

Once a worker starts sweating on the job site in the heat, she needs to be monitored to track her health vitals. Heart rate needs to increase during sweating in order to pump blood fast enough to get it to the skin to cool down. But muscles also require blood to get oxygen and other nutrients for proper function during work in the heat. This means the cardiovascular system has added strain because it must get blood everywhere it is needed.

If a worker is sweating and maintaining a steady workload, eventually that fluid loss from the sweat is going to be felt. Sweat loss will result in lower blood volume and pressure. In order to maintain physical activity for work and continue sweating to keep the body cool, the heart once again needs to beat faster.

Being able to monitor a worker’s heart rate, body temperature, sweat rate and knowing the intensity of their daily labor can provide the best insights to the individual’s health at any given time during warm working conditions for the onsite supervisor or health and safety officer. Allowing managers to give each worker breaks at the right time (when their individual body needs them), with water and shade, can keep everyone safe in the heat.

The cardiovascular system is not the only vital function that’s disrupted during hot work. The nervous system is also impacted, decreasing a worker’s ability to complete tasks as well as affecting cognitive ability. Similar to the cardiovascular system having to work harder in the heat, the nervous system also needs to work harder in order to accomplish the same muscle movement that happened without the added heat. An overtasked nervous system makes work-related tasks harder as well as making cognitive decision-making more difficult. A worker experiencing heat stress is forcing their heart to work harder while his muscles are challenged to continue work and their cognitive functions are dropping, which add up to a significant risk to the individual, the team, the project and the company.

Worker heat stress is a serious and complex problem. Current heat safety strategies, without the use of today’s new smart PPE health monitors, may be well intentioned but not as effective as they could be. Today, advanced monitoring of personal heat stress indicators is possible, helping workers and their supervisors more closely watch individual physiological indicators of heat stress such as heart rate, sweat rate and activity levels, making summertime jobsites safer and more productive.



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.

About Kenzen

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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8 Trends Shaping Industrial Wearables and Robotics

8 Trends Shaping Industrial Wearables and Robotics

Link to the full article from SDCExecutive

Wearables and robotics technologies companies share trends and predictions for the warehouse management system sector in 2021.

FANUC collaborative robot
Market growth is expected with industrial robots, commonly used for mundane tasks, picking, loading orders and transportation, among other order fulfillment jobs, as well as wearables, in the supply chain industry.
Credit FANUC

Consumer demand is driving a fast pace of new technology adoption in the supply chain industry. In the pursuit of increased accuracy, speed and safety on the warehouse floor, supply chain companies are increasingly adding wearables and robotics to tasks such as loading, unloading, picking, packing, shipping and receiving. Within warehouse and distribution center management, companies are using wearable and robotic hardware and software systems to move the needle on productivity and efficiency.

Tech companies are scaling up what their devices and software programs can offer and have identified several industry trends that will likely unfold in coming years.

“We’re already seeing a huge shift at the EHS (environment, health, safety) level, in large part enabled by biometric wearables, from accidents to near misses and prediction and prevention based on the individual,” says Heidi Lehmann, co-founder of Kenzen. “Trend data that can be truly used to optimize health, safety and productivity, at both the human and machine/operational levels are truly transforming the worksite at a rapid pace. Some analysts are calling this the fourth industrial revolution. It’s quite exciting.”

wearables market growth

A recent report published by Research and Markets predicts the industrial wearable devices market to exceed $2.78 billion by 2024. Credit TeamViewer


Growing market for robotics, wearables

Devices and software designed to increase efficiency and improve safety on the warehouse floor are growing in popularity in the supply chain.

Industrial wearables track activities and tasks, help workers complete tasks faster and measure health and safety parameters, resulting in fewer injury reports. Most industrial wearables provide real-time data and analytics, allowing employers and managers to tweak workflows on the fly, leading to improved numbers in profitability and productivity.

report published by Research and Markets in June 2019 predicts the industrial wearable devices market to exceed $2.78 billion by 2024, increasing annually at a rate of 9.2%, with smart watches holding the largest share of growth.

In January, Gartner, Inc. published a report forecasting an $81.5 billion global spend on wearable devices in 2021. This includes spending on smartwatches, wristbands, ear-worn devices, head-mounted displays, smart clothing and smart patches used for health monitoring. In 2020, the greatest increase in spending was on headphones for video calling and use with smartphones, largely due to pandemic-related workflow changes. The report partly credits improvements in sensor accuracy as why the devices are growing in popularity. Advancements in miniaturization have also played a role in the growth.

Similar market growth is expected with industrial robots, commonly used for mundane tasks, picking, loading orders and transportation, among other order fulfillment jobs. A McKinsey & Company report noted that $2.4 billion is spent annually on industrial robotic arms and automation machines. Since 2010, the spend has increased 10% annually, and as of a few years ago, there were at least 2 million robots in use on factory floors, warehouse and similar locations. The report predicted that number to increase to 4.4 million by 2023.

Through the increased use of autonomous robots, which use machine learning and artificial intelligence (AI) to complete tasks, and collaborative robots, or cobots, designed to work alongside humans, the market segment for industrial robots is forecasted to grow to $14.9 billion globally in logistics, according to a report by Fortune Business Insights.


Kenzen wearable device

Kenzen produces wearable devices and a monitoring platform designed to predict and prevent injuries on the jobsite. The device is worn on the upper arm and samples a worker’s physiology every five seconds. Credit Kenzen


Greater adoption of safety wearables

Wearables, devices that use sensors to monitor worker health, environmental hazards and other issues, received a nod of approval from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in a 2019 report that noted that the tools can be a valuable in maintaining the safety of workers in industrial settings.

Kenzen produces wearable devices and a monitoring platform designed to predict and prevent injuries on the warehouse floor. The device is worn on the upper arm and samples a worker’s physiology every five seconds.

“The system sends alerts in real time to workers and safety managers, alerting them when a worker is reaching an unsafe level physiologically,” Lehmann says. “The solution provides protection and intervention in the moment at the worksite, as well as informs changes and planning at one or multiple worksites to enable a safer and more productive workforce.”

Monitoring a worker’s health is important when working in high temperatures, with tasks requiring physical exertion, when employees have pre-existing medical conditions or are dehydrated, she says.

“As individuals, we are all different physiologically depending on gender, age, cardiovascular health, preexisting medical conditions and medications,” Lehmann says. “This is why monitoring workers on sites at the individual level is so important. Customized work/rest schedules, hydration plans, as well as shift changes at the site level, all contribute greatly to total worker health.”

Kenzen software dashboard

Managers who are monitoring data across worksites receive insights into worker safety and health, but at that level, workers’ names and identities are kept private. Credit Kenzen


More workers will realize wearables can maintain privacy

Workers need to know their privacy is maintained while wearing the devices, she adds.

“We need to make sure the worker is very comfortable with our solution,” Lehmann says. “This begins with the actual comfort of the device when worn by a worker, to worker privacy and making sure the worker understands that the platform has been designed with their privacy in mind.”

According to Lehmann, the worker is the only one who can see their own biometric information in detail and in real time.

“Other user groups only see the information they need to keep the worker safe,” she says. “For example, a safety manager would understand, through the team dashboard, when a worker is calibrating in a dangerous direction and needs assistance or needs to rest, yet they don’t see any specific personal health details, only that an intervention may be needed.”

Managers who are monitoring data across worksites receive insights into worker safety and health, but at that level, workers’ names and identities are kept private.

“Leaders see all data across a worksite, or many worksites, but data is deidentified and retrospective, providing insightful, yet non-individualized site insights such as core body temperature risk levels, productivity levels, microclimates, and heat alert frequencies,” Lehmann says.

Using connected wearables on the jobsite is still new, she says, and some companies need to augment their connectivity capabilities if they want to outfit dozens of workers.

“There can be challenges at the IT level to ensure scale across hundreds or even thousands of workers,” she says. “However, worksites are changing very rapidly as the industrial internet of things becomes more and more prolific across commercial sites of all types.”




Small Business, Big Mission: Startup Kenzen embodies KC area’s opportunities

Small Business, Big Mission: Startup Kenzen embodies KC area’s opportunities

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 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

Employees: 12

Founded: 2014

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.”