Preventing Heat-Related Illness with Wearable Tech
July 7, 2021
Heat-related illness can impact both indoor and outdoor workers with concerns ranging from heat exhaustion to lost productivity. Workers in confined spaces and those that are heavily equipped with PPE such as masks or respirators are even more susceptible. It’s not always an option to cool the space. Some job sites are outdoors, others aren’t easily cooled. In those cases, it’s crucial to monitor the environment around the workers carefully to spot a possible dangerous situation before it causes injury or illness.
In addition to becoming ill from overheating, workers also become irritable, forgetful and careless causing lower productivity. Sweat from high heat situations can drip into eyes, blurring vision or cause hands to become slippery. Studies show that worker productivity will decrease by more than 1 percent for every two degrees that temperatures rise over 77°F. At temperatures of 92°F or higher, there is a 16.6 percent decrease in productivity.
There are many methods to help keep workers cool, such as fans, hydration stations, temperature gauges and frequent breaks. MākuSafe’s wearable safety device contains sensors that can more accurately measure the environment around a worker, not just the temperature in a particular area of a building or job site. The sensors in the device, worn on the upper arm of a worker in a non-slip, comfortable band, can accurately read the temperature around a worker and alert a safety manager as heat readings reach perilous levels. Safety leaders receive notifications in MākuSmart, the cloud-based analytics platform that collects and synthesizes wearable data into useful insights and notifications, or they can also subscribe to text alerts. These sensors and the notifications they generate, allow safety leaders to prioritize their efforts on the workers and the areas of the facility that are in need of heat stress mitigation strategies.
Safety leaders can also get a comprehensive view of issues from high heat to air quality, sound dosage and hazardous motion across their facility with the Skyview feature in MākuSmart. The MākuSmart platform displays your facility floor plan or site map with an overlay of indicators on it, so you can see a visual heat map of where indicators are popping up and analyze trends and occurrences in various areas of the facility. This aerial view allows safety leaders to scan areas of their facility and prioritize follow-up and further investigation as needed.
Workers can also communicate real-time heat-related concerns to safety leaders without leaving their station by simply pressing down the button in the middle of the device and recording a voice memo that is sent to the MākuSmart platform via audio and written transcription. Some examples include workers requesting refills for the hydration station, letting a supervisor know they feel dizzy or notifying the safety leader that a fan isn’t working properly. These voice memos are a near-miss capture strategy, providing a direct line of communication between front-line worker and safety leader, allowing for a worker to easily communicate a concern BEFORE it becomes a recordable incident.
Plan Ahead and Prevent
While it’s nearly impossible to eliminate all heat-related incidents, the use of wearable tech to predict and prevent heat-induced illness is now possible. If working in high-heat conditions is a concern in your organization, let’s talk about how we can work together to keep your workers safe. Schedule a demo with us to see how it works!
If you are interested in more resources for creating and implementing an occupational heat safety plan for your organization, check out these helpful resources from the National Heat Safety Coalition.