Record-breaking temperatures in 2021 led to increased worker deaths, from produce pickers to construction crews and garbage collectors. In 2022, tech entrepreneurs have addressed the issue by finding innovative ways to track and prevent the dangers of heat on the body. Heidi Lehmann, a tech entrepreneur whose latest venture Kenzen produces a wearable device that monitors workers’ physiology to predict and prevent heat injuries and deaths, said that progressive employers are already incorporating technology that can track worker wellness. Kenzen has equipped first responders, miners and workers in the construction, energy, steel and manufacturing sectors with sensors that continuously monitor their physiology to assess core body temperature, sweat rate and exertion. Lehmann welcomes legislation that will mandate the care needed for overheated bodies — such as breaks, water and cooling techniques — yet warns that standards should not be ‘one-size-fits-all’. Biological sex, fitness, age, acclimatisation and other individual factors can 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 personalised approach needs to be part of the solution,” Lehmann said.
Kenzen sensors gather thousands of data points per worker per shift. Through research and validation with universities and use of its system by more than 50 companies, Kenzen has amassed a large dataset of continuous core body temperature. 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 can use the analytics dashboard to make enterprise-wide decisions to minimise heat risks, reduce injuries and improve productivity. They may also adjust work schedules or assign certain tasks to individuals. Throughout the process, personal data is protected, as 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,” Lehmann said.