By Cheryl Lynn Palmer | Mar 01, 2022
Can your company afford not to implement wearable technology as part of its HRI prevention program?
Until now, the world at large wasn’t speculating on the occupational impact of climate change. However, organizations like the Department of Labor, OSHA, NIOSH as well as President Biden, by issuing new heat rules for worksites, are making the issue of dangerous heat impossible to ignore. Heat risk to workers and companies has caught the attention of many organizations and international media because it now kills more Americans than any other weather-related event, and it has been injuring workers quietly for many years.
Wearable technology can detect HRI symptoms that are hard to diagnose on work sites for several reasons:
Symptoms may not exist. Many people who experience HRI state that they “feel fine,” until they get dizzy, pass out and fall down.
Symptoms may be hard to identify. Fatigue and nausea may be misinterpreted as caused by food illness or too much alcohol the previous night. Temperament changes and lack of attention may be attributed to stress or a bad day. Unsteadiness and dropped items may just be simple mistakes. Muscle cramps may be mistaken for overdoing it the day before or a hard workout at the gym. Yet, each of these things are signs of HRI.
Workers may have been incorrectly trained. Research indicates many people believe that, if they are sweating, they are safe from HRI. Workers haven’t been trained to know that this is not true.
Symptoms may impede one’s own ability to self-identify HRI and react. Impaired judgment, disrupted cognitive function, lack of focus, inability to make decisions and poor comprehension could impede a worker’s ability to detect heat risk on the body.
Workplaces may not be watching for HRI. Heat assessment indexes and weather warning systems may not reflect variables specific to workplaces, such as metabolic heat production from work tasks, clothing layers, PPE, heat generated from machines and materials, etc., leaving workers unaware of their risks. Some assessment indexes may even use antiquated versions of heat indicators.