KENZEN LAUNCHES BODY HEAT SENSOR SYSTEM FOR  PREDICTIVE, PREVENTATIVE WORKER SAFETY

KENZEN LAUNCHES BODY HEAT SENSOR SYSTEM FOR PREDICTIVE, PREVENTATIVE WORKER SAFETY

Smart PPE patch monitors and relays real-time stress indicators to protect workers against heat injuries and death 

May 7, 2020 (NEW YORK)Kenzen, the smart PPE innovator focused on physiological monitoring and the prevention of heat injury and death among workers, has launched a real-time worker heat monitoring system. The Cloud-based Software as a Service (SaaS) system includes a wearable device worn by workers on their arm which alerts both the worker and their supervisor when core body temperature is too high.  Real-time alerts allow for immediate intervention and worker safety from heat injuries.

The wearable, via its advanced sensor complement, monitors multiple physiological and environmental metrics, including heart rate, activity, skin and ambient temperatures. Together, these sensor data allow for the real-time prediction of core body temperature, providing alerts to workers and supervisors when temperatures approach unsafe levels.

Kenzen mobile rest alert for the worker

Kenzen’s multi-level alerts are sent to workers via device vibration, iOS or Android app notification, and to supervisors via web dashboard alert signaling that the worker should take a break and allow his/her temperature to return to safe levels.  Alerts are accompanied by actionable recommendations such as advising the worker to take a break, find shade, drink water, or remove any excess clothing and equipment to decrease body heat. A second “back to work” alert then indicates when the worker’s core body temperature has returned to a safe level.

Data captured by the system can be used to help companies identify heat risk and proactively manage outcomes by adapting worksites accordingly to improve worker safety while maximizing productivity. Modifications may include changes to work-rest schedules, where and when to add water and shade stations, the addition of air-conditioned rest areas and even recommendations for pre-staging ice-bath locations in case of extreme weather and working conditions. The data can also inform decisions around workplace expenditures such as certain equipment and clothing.

“The Kenzen system is all about prediction and prevention. Heat related injuries are 100% preventable but potentially deadly and difficult to detect until it’s too late,” said Heidi Lehmann, chief commercialization officer for Kenzen.

Kenzen dashboard

The Kenzen system has been piloted on worksites of large industrial conglomerates across the globe in domains such as construction, field services, power, oil and gas, and renewable energy.  In the future, open APIs will allow integration into large connected-worker platforms. Kenzen also expects to receive Intrinsic Safety (IS) certification for use of its system, a prerequisite for use in many oil and gas, mining and other enclosed environments later this year.  Once approved the system would be among the first smart PPE products to receive Zone 0 IS certification, which authorizes safe operation of electrical equipment in hazardous areas where any thermal or electrical malfunction is catastrophic.

Kenzen is sold as a subscription on a per-worker, per-month basis.

About Kenzen

Founded in 2014, Kenzen is the premier physiological monitoring platform to keep work forces safe from heat, fatigue and over exertion on the job. For more information about heat stress and how to integrate the system into your safety plan, visit Kenzen.com.

ARE YOU AT INCREASED RISK FOR HEAT INJURY OR ILLNESS?

ARE YOU AT INCREASED RISK FOR HEAT INJURY OR ILLNESS?

There are many factors that can increase your susceptibility for heat-related injuries and illnesses. Some of these factors you might have control over, while others you might not.

pills

NATURAL FACTORS THAT CAN MAKE YOU MORE SUSCEPTIBLE TO HEAT-RELATED INJURIES & ILLNESSES:

  • Age. After age 35 your body’s ability to dissipate heat (primarily through sweating) will decline. As a result, older adults tend to have higher core body temperatures than younger adults, when working at the same rate in the heat. This difference between older and younger individuals can be minimized with heat acclimatization and endurance training.

  • Genetics. Some people are able to acclimatize faster and tolerate the heat better than others; some of this appears to be attributable to genetic makeup. However, heat acclimatization can help level the playing field.

  • Diseases. Various skin disorders (e.g., psoriasis), cardiovascular diseases (e.g., hypertension), sweat gland disorders (e.g., Type I and Type II diabetes), and metabolic disorders can impair your body’s ability to effectively thermoregulate. This means that your core body temperature will be higher for the same workload, which puts you at increased risk for heat-related injuries & illnesses.

EXTERNAL SUBSTANCES THAT CAN MAKE YOU MORE SUSCEPTIBLE TO HEAT-RELATED INJURIES & ILLNESSES:

  • Drugs that affect your nervous system (e.g., antidepressants, sympathomimetics, anticholinergics, & antipsychotics). These drugs have been shown to impair your sweat gland function & increase your heat production, meaning that if you’re regularly taking these drugs, you’ll likely have a higher core body temperature for the same work rate than someone who is not taking these medications.

  • Antihistamines (e.g., allergy medications). These drugs can impair your sweat gland function making it harder for you to get rid of heat as readily, which can lead to an increased core body temperature.

  • Drugs that affect your cardiovascular system (e.g., beta blockers & calcium channel blockers). These drugs work to lower your heart rate. This is a problem when working in the heat because you need a higher heart rate to be able to pump blood to the skin (to get rid of heat) and the working muscles (for energy). As a result of the lower heart rate induced by these drugs, you might heat up faster and find it harder to maintain a high work rate in the heat.

  • Diuretics. These drugs make it difficult for you to stay hydrated, which means that in the heat, your body will be working extra hard to keep you cool. Remember that dehydration exacerbates the effects of heat stress.

THINGS YOU CAN CONTROL IN ORDER TO MINIMIZE YOUR RISK FOR HEAT-RELATED INJURIES & ILLNESSES:

  • Fitness. Making sure that you are healthy and staying fit can help you better handle the heat. A lot of the same adaptations you get with heat acclimatization (e.g., higher sweat rate and lower core body temperature) can also be obtained by doing endurance training in cool environments.

  • Acclimatization. Heat acclimatization is the best way to minimize your risk for heat-related injuries and illnesses. In general, it takes about 2 weeks to acclimatize to the heat; and once acclimatized, you need to be exposed to the heat at least every 3-4 days to maintain those adaptations. See here for how to do this.

  • Hydration. Since dehydration can exacerbate the effects of heat stress, it is important to stay hydrated. See our blog post on how to stay hydrated throughout the work day.

  • Listen to your body. If you start to experience any signs or symptoms of heat injuries or illnesses, take a break. Find shade, rest, and drink some water. Remove extra clothing if possible to help cool you off. Always listen to your body, and stop before it’s too late.

  • Sleep. More research is needed to determine the exact impacts of sleep on thermoregulation. However, if you know that you’re someone who doesn’t do well with minimal sleep, make sure you’re getting enough rest before spending a long day working in the heat.

  • Avoid drug use. Not only can recreational drugs (e.g., alcohol, ephedrine, cocaine, ecstasy) change your heart rate and blood pressure, they can also alter your body’s ability to get rid of heat (via increased blood flow to the skin and sweating). These drugs will quickly increase your risk for heat injury and illness, not to mention impair your abilities to successfully complete your job.

Now that you know all of the things that can harm and help you in the heat, it’s time to put that knowledge into action! Kenzen can help with our Heat Safety Training Program.

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REFERENCE:

Pryor, J. Luke, Julien D. Périard, and Riana R. Pryor. “Predisposing Factors for Exertional Heat Illness.” Exertional Heat Illness. Springer, Cham, 2020. 29-57.

CORE TEMPERATURE & CIRCADIAN RHYTHM

CORE TEMPERATURE & CIRCADIAN RHYTHM

clock with human hands around it

Did you know that your body temperature normally fluctuates up to 1°C (~1.8°F) in a day? But why?\

Photo by Oladimeji Ajegbile on Unsplash

THE DAILY CORE TEMPERATURE CYCLE

Your core temperature is lowest around 4-6 AM and highest around 4-7 PM. Biological circadian rhythms are ~25 h in length, and so the time of day these peaks and troughs occur will slightly shift each day.

This is important to remember when working in the heat, because your core temperature will always be lower in the morning than in the afternoon, and so it is important to understand whether your core temperature is increasing as a result of heat stress or just due to typical fluctuations in body temperature throughout the day.

WHAT CAUSES THIS CORE TEMPERATURE FLUCTUATION?

The short answer: melatonin. Melatonin is a hormone that has a tight control on your body temperature: when your body increases melatonin at night, this leads to a decrease in your body temperature (by ~0.3°C) and causes you to get sleepy. This is one of the reasons that taking melatonin might help you fall asleep.

However, studies have shown that melatonin does not reduce your body temperature enough to help you stay cooler in the heat.

construction site

HOW DOES THIS CORE TEMPERATURE FLUCTUATION AFFECT YOUR ABILITY TO WORK IN THE HEAT?

Although your ability to dissipate heat is just as good in the morning as in the afternoon, the slightly higher core temperature in the afternoon can reduce your productivity because you might achieve a higher core temperature sooner. That means you might need to take more breaks to stay cool in the afternoon vs. the morning work shifts.

One solution is to try to get all of your hard work done in the morning when it’s cooler outside and your body temperature is lower, and to save the smaller, lighter work tasks for the afternoon.

Have more questions? Kenzen is here to help with our Heat Safety Training Program.

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REFERENCES:

1) Racinais, S. “Different effects of heat exposure upon exercise performance in the morning and afternoon.” Scandinavian journal of medicine & science in sports 20 (2010): 80-89.

2) Cheung, Stephen S. Advanced environmental exercise physiology. Human Kinetics Publishers, 2009.

WHEN YOU’RE TOO HOT: FEVER VS. HEAT ILLNESS. WHAT’S THE DIFFERENCE?

WHEN YOU’RE TOO HOT: FEVER VS. HEAT ILLNESS. WHAT’S THE DIFFERENCE?

Both infection and heat stress can lead to dangerously high core body temperatures.

But how can you tell the difference these 2 things physiologically, and should they be treated differently?

thermometer

With the rapid spread of the coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2/COVID-19), the Kenzen team wanted to make sure that anyone who might be continuing to work (or live) in hot climates is aware of the the differences between heat-related illnesses (e.g., exertional heat exhaustion or heat stroke) vs. fever, so that you can stay safe.

Body Temperature Regulation: The Basics

Your body wants to maintain it’s temperature around a ‘“set-point” where it’s most comfortable and works most efficiently. This set-point is typically around 97.9 to 98.8°F (~36.6-37.1°C). Of course, this set-point differs for each individual— based on how fit they are, whether they are heat acclimatized, and what time of day it is— but in general, your body tries to maintain its temperature within this narrow range.

This set-point is controlled by a region in your brain called the hypothalamus, where a group of cells (neurons) sense changes in your body’s temperature and then send out responses to adjust the temperature accordingly. There are also neurons in your skin that sense hot and cold, and then relay this information to the brain. Your brain combines all of this information together and if your temperature is outside of that set-point, it will cause your body to respond by either increasing (e.g., through shivering) or decreasing (e.g., through sweating) your temperature to get it back to normal.

brain

So what happens with a fever?

  • A fever just indicates that your body temperature is higher than normal. This is typically above 100.4°F (~38°C) and occurs from an infection (either viral or bacterial) that is causes substances, called pyrogens, to leak outside of the invader cells.

  • These pyrogens increase the body’s set-point, which means that now instead of having a set-point of say 97.9°F, your new set-point is 103°F.

  • Because you have a new (higher) set-point, your body now thinks that a temperature of 97.9°F is “cold”, and so your body will try to increase your temperature.

  • This causes the typical responses when you’re cold, like 1) shivering (chills), 2) vasoconstriction (narrowing) of the vessels in your skin which makes your skin colder because there is less blood flowing to the skin, and 3) increased cellular metabolic heat production.

  • All of these responses cause your body temperature to go up. It continues to go up (in some cases for hours) until your temperature hits this new set-point of 103°F. At this point, you might feel OK because you’re at your “new normal.” However, as soon as you cross this point, or you take medications that inhibit the pyrogens, your body set-point goes back down, and now your body temperature is way too high.

  • What does your body do? That’s right, it tries to cool you down by sweating, vasodilation, etc… which is when you feel really hot and sweaty.

  • This cycle of shivering and sweating can continue for as long as you are fighting the infection.

How do you know if you have a fever?

If you ARE NOT working/exercising in the heat, and you feel chills or cold skin, have body aches, and/or feel weak & tired, you may have an infection that should be treated by a medical professional.

Note: If you ARE working in a hot environment, and your core temperature does not feel like it has been increasing steadily, you are intermittently getting chills, and/or you feel cold or achy, you might have something that is unrelated to heat stress.

What’s the best way to treat a fever?

Contact your doctor, stay home, drink plenty of fluids, and rest.

construction workers

What happens with heat-illnesses (like heat stroke)?

  • Unlike with a fever (from an infection), when you have a heat-related injury or illness, your body temperature (hypothalamic) set-point has not changed.

  • With heat stress, your core body temperature continues to increase past your set-point because your metabolic heat production (from working or exercising really hard in the heat) is exceeding your body’s ability to get rid of the heat you’re generating.

  • And once your core body temperature goes up past the set-point, then you start sweating to try to cool your body down. But remember, if it’s really humid and hot outside, then it won’t be as easy for you to dissipate that heat (because the sweat won’t evaporate).

  • So if you’re working hard in the heat, and you are producing heat faster than you can get rid of it, your body temperature will continue to climb.

  • Often, while working or exercising in the heat, core body temperatures can easily (& safely) exceed the “fever” criteria of 100.4°F. In fact, reaching this core body temperature is often necessary to acclimatize to the heat.

  • Most trained athletes & heat-acclimatized workers can safely reach and maintain core body temperatures of 101.3°F (38.5°C) without any damage to their body.

  • However, the main difference (between reaching this higher core temperature with heat stress vs. fever) is that this is a safe increase in core temperature that has not altered the brain’s set-point. And furthermore, your body is not too hot where you could get irreversible (organ) damage.

  • That being said, if people are not closely monitored for signs & symptoms of heat-related injuries & illnesses, these hotter temperatures can lead to heat stroke and even death.

How do you know if you have a heat-related illness?

Signs & symptoms can vary, but some of the first signs of heat exhaustion are really hot skin, very sweaty, feeling lightheaded or faint, difficulty continuing to work/exercise, and general weakness.

Exertional heat stroke means that your core body temperature is >104°F (40°C) and it is a serious medical emergency. Along with this extremely high core body temperature, the person will often exhibit changes in their behavior (e.g., aggressiveness, confusion, irritability), can collapse or faint, and is very weak.

The main point is that you will generally be feeling hot, sweaty, & faint with heat-related illness, more so than cold, chilly, & achy, like with a fever.

What’s the best way to treat heat-related illnesses?

For heat exhaustion: rest (for at least 15 min), drink water, and find shade or air conditioning. Continue to monitor your symptoms & if possible, track your body temperature throughout the day.

For exertional heat stroke: emergency cooling using an ice water bath is best, & call emergency medical services immediately. Remember: cool first at the site, and then transport to the hospital.

Stay safe & healthy, everyone!

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REFERENCE:

Guyton, Arthur C., and John Edward Hall. Textbook of medical physiology. 12th edition. Philadelphia: Saunders, 2011.

BATTLE OF THE SEXES: WHO DOES BETTER IN THE HEAT?

BATTLE OF THE SEXES: WHO DOES BETTER IN THE HEAT?

Watch our first Kenzen video blog with VP of Research & Development, Nicole Moyen, as she explores the differences between how men & women handle working in the heat.

If men & women are working at the same relative work-rate, then men typically have a higher sweat rate than women (assuming men have a larger body surface area to mass ratio).

Remember: sweating is the main way that we get rid of body heat.

This higher sweat rate in men means that:

  • In hot-dry (low humidity) climates, men will likely be able to work for a longer period of time with a lower core temp than women, because they are better able to get rid of body heat through increased sweating.

  • In hot-humid climates, women will likely be to work for a longer period of time in the heat (with a lower core temp) because their lower sweat rate will keep them from losing body water (through sweating) that isn’t evaporating or cooling.

    • Men, on the other hand, due to their higher sweat rate will be losing a lot of body water through sweating, but it won’t be evaporating in the high humidity. So men will become dehydrated more quickly vs. women, and see a faster increase in core temperature.

This information is important to keep in mind if you have men and women on your workforce, so that you consider the humidity and sex when determining work/rest schedules for your employees that day.

For help setting up work/rest schedules at your site and heat safety training, check out our Heat Safety Training Program.