Using wearable technology to beat the heat
Heat-related illness is a hazard for anyone working outside, particularly during the summer months, and can be fatal if left untreated.
However, it is preventable — as shown by a company based in the United Arab Emirates that has deployed wearable technology as part of its campaign to protect workers from the heat.
Emirates Global Aluminium, which has focused for more than a decade on eliminating heat-related illness, recently expanded its use of the Kenzen wearable technology platform. It was been rolled out to 350 employee volunteers to protect against the harsh UAE summer.
EGA‘s ‘Beat the Heat’ program is an intense, summer-long effort across the company’s operations. Employees are trained to detect the early signs of heat stress in themselves and others. EGA conducts hydration tests before and during shifts, and employees are encouraged to take regular breaks and cooling showers. Cooling booths, drinking stations, icemakers and portable air conditioning units in EGA production areas help keep people cool.
Kenzen’s wearable technology offers the potential to further protect the company’s outdoor workers by continuously reporting core body temperature, heart rate, activity and other body indicators in real time, allowing both the wearer and EGA’s safety team to detect heat strain in the body before the early signs can be felt. EGA also used wearable devices for the first time in a trial of 50 volunteers last summer.
Despite industrial processes that generate further heat, and which must run and be tended around the clock, EGA achieved zero heat-related illnesses in 2019 and 2022. In 2021, EGA recorded two cases of heat-related illness requiring treatment at the company’s onsite medical centres. In both cases, the employees received rehydration via intravenous drips and fully recovered within hours.
“Heat-related illness is a serious threat to health and even life in our region, and increasingly around the world. Our work has shown that heat-related illness is entirely preventable, even in challenging industrial environments like ours. Wearable technology offers the potential to protect people even more, and I am looking forward to the results of the wider trial we are conducting this summer,” said Abdulnasser Bin Kalban, Chief Executive Officer of Emirates Global Aluminium.
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