KENZEN Featured in Heavy Equipment Guide

KENZEN Featured in Heavy Equipment Guide

Construction safety wearables for 2020

by Slone Fox

Read the entire article in Heavy Equipment Guide, here.

Beyond the standard PPE of vests, glasses, and hard hats, wearable technology can further improve safety for construction workers. Here are six construction safety wearables for 2020 that address the dangers of heat exhaustion, fatigue, and lack of visibility, among other job site hazards.

 

Kenzen's body heat sensor system
Kenzen’s body heat sensor system

Kenzen’s body heat sensor system

Kenzen’s real-time worker heat monitoring 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.

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 their 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.

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.

WHAT YOU’RE CONSUMING CAN HELP YOU OR HARM YOU IN THE HEAT.

WHAT YOU’RE CONSUMING CAN HELP YOU OR HARM YOU IN THE HEAT.

There are several supplements that can help or harm you in the heat, and it might not be what you think…

crumpled cigarette packs

We have all seen the overwhelming wall of pills, powders, and tonics claiming to help cure every disease known to man. Some of these supplements even claim to help with working in a hot environment. But do they work?

The short answer is… maybe.

By definition, a supplement is exactly that. Not a replacement or a stand alone food item, but a supplement to your day to day nutrition. And as is the same with most supplements, they are generally only useful when we are lacking in our normal nutritional health.

TWO SUPPLEMENTS THAT MIGHT HELP YOU IN THE HEAT:

Creatine:

Creatine is one of the most popular nutritional supplements in the world. While most people tend to take creatine to increase muscle size with weightlifting, there is major concern that creatine can lead to muscle cramping, primarily from dehydration.

It was once thought that because creatine causes more water to be held in the muscle cells, it would lead to dehydration.

However, research has shown us that these fears are not only unnecessary, but reversed! Scientists now believe that creatine may actually improve our tolerance to the heat. It turns out that the extra water held in the muscle cells may actually enhance our body’s ability to deal with heat stress.

Take action: For optimal results, start with 20 g/day for one week, followed by a maintenance dose of 5 g/day thereafter. Unlike Vitamin C, it is hard to get enough creatine naturally from your diet, so supplementing with creatine is the best way to increase levels.

Vitamin C:

Although research is conflicted, it has generally been shown that taking a Vitamin C supplement can lower core body temperature during the first few days of heat acclimatization, thus minimizing the risk of heat-related injuries and illnesses.

Moreover, although the amount of vitamins lost through sweating is minimal, research indicates that for individuals who have a diet lower in Vitamin C and are consistently working in the heat (and sweating a lot), can benefit from taking a daily dose of Vitamin C to help replenish stores that are lost through sweating.

Take action: For optimal results, take 250 mg/day, and not more than this amount because it can compromise the absorption of vitamin B12.

ONE THING THAT DOESN’T HELP OR HINDER YOU IN THE HEAT

Caffeine:

While caffeine tends to be a bit confusing as to its effects on overall health, research has shown that caffeine does not seem to affect performance in the heat or increase the risk of heat illness. And if you are a regular coffee or tea drinker, research shows that regular consumption of coffee or tea will not dehydrate you. So while caffeine may not help you beat the heat, it won’t hurt you either.

THINGS THAT CAN HARM YOU IN THE HEAT

Nicotine:

Consistent nicotine use (in the form of tobacco, cigarettes, etc) can impair your ability to get rid of body heat because nicotine use alters your sweating and skin blood flow mechanisms, making you more susceptible to heat-related injuries and illnesses. Even short-term nicotine use in the heat can be dangerous because nicotine is a stimulant, which leads to increased heart rate and blood pressure, meaning that your cardiovascular strain will not only be higher from the heat, but also from the nicotine. It’s best to avoid nicotine-related products altogether.

Alcohol: 

While alcohol can lead to vasodilation, which in theory, would help to dissipate heat, the slight benefit does not outweigh the harm. Alcoholic drinks (>4% ABV) lead to increased urination (they act as a diuretic), which can dehydrate you. This means that if you’re drinking alcohol after a long day of working in the heat, you probably will not replenish the body water you lost that day through sweating, and so you will start the next work day dehydrated.

This of course is a problem because dehydration exacerbates the effects of heat stress on the body by reducing sweat rate and skin blood flow— the two key mechanisms to get rid of body heat— and also increases the cardiovascular strain on your body. This means that you won’t be able to work as hard or be as productive at work when dehydrated, and you are also more susceptible to heat-related injuries and illnesses.

Moral of the story: be aware of the things you’re consuming that might help you, but can also harm you in the heat. 

AND REMEMBER THAT HEAT ILLNESSES ARE 100% PREVENTABLE!

For more information on emergency cooling procedures, or to have Kenzen make your worksite heat-safe, see our Heat Safety Training Program.

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REFERENCES

  1. https://doi.org/10.1007/s00726-016-2237-9
  2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK236216/
  3. Pryor, J. L., Périard, J. D., & Pryor, R. R. (2020). Predisposing Factors for Exertional Heat Illness. In Exertional Heat Illness (pp. 29-57). Springer, Cham.
WHAT IS YOUR SWEAT RATE & WHY DOES IT MATTER?

WHAT IS YOUR SWEAT RATE & WHY DOES IT MATTER?

Calculating your sweat rate is the best way to figure out how much water you need to be drinking when working or exercising in the heat.

You can use our sweat rate calculator (see below) to figure out your average sweat rate, and how much water you should drink back after your exercise bout or work day.

WHAT YOU NEED TO DO TO GET AN ACCURATE SWEAT RATE CALCULATION:

  1. Pick an activity (ideally during your typical workday) that is 30-60 minutes long, where you are usually sweating. Note that you will need to weigh yourself (nude) before and after the activity, so if this is not possible at work, then go for a run at home or the gym, or do some sort of aerobic (endurance) activity that gets your heart rate up & causes you to sweat (e.g., elliptical, cycling, etc).
  2. Weigh yourself (nude) before exercise and/or work. Write down this number. Go do your activity – and be sure to keep track of the time (be as precise as possible). Note: During this exercise period, you should not use the restroom or drink any fluids. Immediately after you’re done, take your clothes off & wipe off any dripping sweat from your body.
  3. Weigh yourself (nude) again. Write down this number. Enter your two body weights & your exercise/work duration in the calculator below to get your sweat rate & how much water you should drink back!

Sweat Rate Calculator

 

Note that the amount of water to drink back is the amount specific to the activity you did (and that amount of time). If it’s really hot outside, your sweat rate might be even higher, and then you’ll need to drink even more water.

**Remember that you can’t just chug all of that water at once because your body can only absorb it so fast.. as a general rule of thumb, your body can only absorb ~1 cup (8 oz.) of water every 15 minutes, so try to divide up your fluids (over the hour) based on that rule.

For more information, check out our blog on staying hydrated during the workday.

THIS IS A GOOD PLACE TO START, BUT FOR MORE CUSTOMIZED HYDRATION PLANS & RECOMMENDATIONS SPECIFIC TO YOUR SITE, WORK ACTIVITIES, AND CLOTHING, CHECK OUT KENZEN’S HEAT SAFETY PROGRAM– WE’RE HERE TO HELP.

STAY HYDRATED DURING THE WORKDAY!

STAY HYDRATED DURING THE WORKDAY!

Water is essential to our body. It helps to digest foods, makes up a large portion of our blood volume, helps maintain our blood pressure, is a large component of our muscles (~80% of your muscles are water!), and helps to regulate our body temperature. Not only can dehydration impact your mood, but it can also impact your work in the heat.

Working in the heat is already hard enough mentally and physically. But if you’re dehydrated on top of that, you will experience even greater physiological strain, and you might notice that your mood and cognition are worse too. This combination of being dehydrated AND working in the heat will increase the odds of accidents at work, decrease your performance, and increase your risk for heat-releated injuries and illnesses. But don’t worry, there is an easy fix for this…. drinking water!

So how do you stay hydrated throughout the work day?

  • Start by drinking a glass of water when you wake up in the morning. Starting your day hydrated will help to keep your core temperature lower by allowing for your body to sweat adequately (and get rid of heat) throughout the work day.
  • If possible, carry a water bottle with you throughout the day to make drinking water easy and accessible. If it’s not cold water, don’t worry about it. Although it may not be pleasant to drink, warm water won’t necessarily make you hotter.
  • Don’t limit your water intake and always drink when you’re thirsty.
  • NIOSH & OSHA recommend drinking ~8 oz water (1 cup) every 15-20 minutes. But may not be the correct amount for you. For a more accurate hydration plan, you’ll need to calculate your normal sweat rate. Kenzen can help you & your team with this. But for right now, you can weigh yourself before vs. after your workday to figure out exactly how much water you lost (through sweating).

Rule of thumb: you need to drink 20 oz. (about 1.5 water bottles) of water per pound of body weight lost through sweating.

  • Limit alcohol intake. Alcohol dehydrates you and impacts your body’s ability to properly regulate body temperature.

  • Good news: if you regularly consume caffeine, it will not impact your hydration or your ability to work in the heat. So don’t worry about having your 2-3 cups of coffee or tea each day.

How can you check to make sure you’re staying hydrated?

Your urine color (in the toilet bowl) should be a lemonade color (or lighter). This is the easiest way to check that you’re hydrated.

If you’re using a porta-potty where it’s hard to see your urine color in the toilet bowl, you can count how many times each day that you have to use the restroom.

If you’re urinating at least 7 times per day, you’re hydrated. Any less than 5 times per day and you’re likely dehydrated. This would mean that you’re urinating at least once every 2 hours or so.

Glass of water

Three tricks to increase your water absorption:

  1. Lightly salting your foods (especially during the first two weeks you’re working in the heat) can help your body to absorb more water.
  2. Drinking fluids with electrolytes (especially sodium) will help to absorb the water you drink. Just watch those sugars in the drinks- you don’t need them!
  3. Your body can only absorb water at a certain speed… what that means is that you need to pace yourself in drinking the water back after working hard in the heat. You can’t just “chug” a bunch of water at the end of the work day— you will just urinate it out.

Rule of thumb: your body can absorb ~8 oz. (half of a water bottle) every 15 minutes, so try to pace your water drinking to that rate.

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REFERENCES:

  • Armstrong, Lawrence E., et al. “Urinary indices of hydration status.” International journal of sport nutrition 4.3 (1994): 265-279.
  • Kenefick, Robert W., et al. “Quantification of chromatographic effects of vitamin B supplementation in urine and implications for hydration assessment.” Journal of Applied Physiology 119.2 (2015): 110-115.
  • Burchfield, J. M., et al. “24-h Void number as an indicator of hydration status.”European journal of clinical nutrition 69.5 (2015): 638-641.
  • Tucker, M. A., et al. “Reliability of 24-h void frequency as an index of hydration status when euhydrated and hypohydrated.” European journal of clinical nutrition (2016).
  • Ely, Brett R., et al. “Hypohydration and acute thermal stress affect mood state but not cognition or dynamic postural balance.” European journal of applied physiology 113.4 (2013): 1027-1034.
  • Armstrong, Lawrence E., et al. “Mild dehydration affects mood in healthy young women.” The Journal of nutrition 142.2 (2012): 382-388.
  • Shirreffs, Susan Margaret, et al. “Post-exercise rehydration in man: effects of volume consumed and drink sodium content.” Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise 28.10 (1996): 1260-1271.
  • Bain AR, Lesperance NC, Jay O. Body heat storage during physical activity is lower with hot fluid ingestion under conditions that permit full evaporation. Acta Physiol (Oxf). 2012;206(2): 98–108.