A smart PPE system can now assess workers’ heat susceptibility when they are working in hot conditions by tracking their sweat rate.
As reported by Construction Manager, the US-developed Kenzen system calculates a worker’s heat susceptibility and then classifies them into low, moderate, or high-risk heat categories.
The sweat rate monitoring feature uses a worker’s information and physiological data to calculate and predict their sweat rate in litres per hour. Kenzen said the system would allow managers to view an individual’s sweat rate on a dashboard, which would also indicate how many litres of water an hour that person would need to drink to stay hydrated.
Kenzen devices worn by workers contain sensors that monitor an individual’s physiological responses. The worker is warned when their core temperature is too high and they are in danger of a heat-related injury or illness via a smart phone app and a device vibration. Managers have a corresponding app that alerts them when a worker needs an intervention to stop work, rest, and hydrate, and a second alert for when it’s safe to return to work.
Kenzen said the tool would allow managers to ensure that there was enough water on sites to ensure that workers stayed sufficiently hydrated, as well as providing workers with a hydration plan so they know how many cups of water to drink per day.
In addition, Kenzen evaluates workers’ medical and physical condition, physical fitness heat-acclimatisation status, history of heat injury and illness, medications, chronic illnesses and age to produce the score. But Kenzen said the classification would not reveal personal information or reasons why someone is in a particular heat risk category.
Nicole Moyen, vice president of research and development at Kenzen, said: “There is no ‘one size fits all’ when it comes to hydration, which is why it’s important to use each person’s sweat rate for an individualised hydration plan. Dehydration is a major problem on worksites and increases the chances of someone getting a heat injury or illness, having an accident at the worksite, or suffering from cognitive impairment. Staying hydrated is a simple fix to avoid most of these problems.”